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North Carolina Legal Gambling & Poker

Is Online poker Legal in North Carolina
North Carolina Legal Gambling & Poker
Last Updated December 17, 2018

Poker is alive and well in North Carolina, despite the attempts by naysayers and politicians to suppress the game.  With few real-money poker options available in the home state, poker players from NC have turned in record numbers to the next-best thing: Online poker.

While hard numbers regarding participation in real-money online poker games in the state are hard to come by, we do know that several new players from North Carolina visit our page and sign up at poker sites every day.  To simplify that task, here’s a quick look at everything you need to know in one handy place with our North Carolina Online Poker Guide.

List: The Top Legal Poker Sites for North Carolina

Once you’ve decided to play online poker, the next step is choosing a site.  But what sites best meet the needs of poker players from North Carolina?  Based on our direct experience with dozens upon dozens of poker sites online, we’ve selected the following rooms as the best starting points for real money poker:

Poker Sites Open to Players From Your State
Bovada$500 Bonus3-4 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Wires
Ignition$2000 Bonus3-4 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Wires
Intertops$600 Bonus5 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Wires
BetOnline$2500 Bonus5-7 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Wires
Sportsbetting$2500 Bonus5-7 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Litecoin, Wires

How Can North Carolina Poker Players Play Online?

WIth no special restrictions facing players from North Carolina, it’s a pretty simple trick to get online and play real-money poker games.  Your most difficult task will be selecting a room (but we’ve made that easier on you with our list of the Top Legal Poker Sites for North Carolina above), and once you’ve got that out of the way, you only need to make a deposit (credit cards and money transfers are the primary methods for US poker rooms) before you’re ready to join a table and start stacking fish from across the state, country and the globe.

North Carolina Gambling & Poker Laws Summarized

State Code Section(s)14.37.289-309; 16.1-2; 18C
Definition of GamblingAny person or organization that operates any game of chance or any person who plays at or bets on any game of chance at which any money, property or other thing of value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Online Poker/GamblingThere have been no efforts to legalize and regulate any type of online gambling in North Carolina.
Live PokerPoker is offered in the one fully-functional tribal casino in the state, with both cash games and tournaments available there.
CasinosOne tribe in North Carolina secured a gambling compact with the state to operate gambling establishments on its land, and of those, only one is a casino operated with Harrah’s to offer everything from slots to poker.
Sports BettingThere have been no proposals via the legislature to legalize any type of sports betting.
DFSA bill introduced in 2017 to legalize paid-entry fantasy sports games did not make it to the legislature floor for a vote. There was no follow-up bill put forward in 2018.
Other Forms of GamblingBingo and raffles for charitable organizations, lottery.

Is Online Poker Legal in North Carolina?

Gambling law is a tricky area, and any poker site that promises to give you authoritative advice regarding the legality of online poker or gambling is probably not telling you the whole truth.

What exactly is the whole truth?  Well, gambling online for real money may be in conflict with the laws of US states.  The problem is, very few directly mention online poker or other forms of Internet gambling, so the question of legality becomes one more of opinion than fact.  As a result, you should consult a lawyer with experience in state gaming law before taking any answer as definitive.

Having such a conversation will be easier if you are already educated on the basics of the law.  To that end, here are some of the fundamental aspects of North Carolina gambling law:

Here’s how the state defines gambling:

“Except as provided in Chapter 18C of the General Statutes or in Part 2 of this Article, any person or organization that operates any game of chance or any person who plays at or bets on any game of chance at which any money, property or other thing of value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor” (Section 14-292).

If you’re wondering about those exceptions, they refer to the state lottery and charitable gambling that is overseen by the state.

Unfortunately, there is no further definition of “game of chance” found in North Carolina law.  Based on case law involving gambling charges in the state, it appears that poker would qualify as a game of chance.

There is no obvious exemption for private or “social” gambling in North Carolina.  While games played in public (or public establishments) may bring additional charges, a social game between friends in the home does not technically comport with North Carolina law.

North Carolina law allows for the seizure of all items employed in illegal gambling – including the money used in a game of poker (Section 14.299).

There is no specific mention of gambling that occurs online in North Carolina law.

To learn more about gambling law in North Carolina, visit this link below and review the state statutes directly.

Could North Carolina Potentially Regulate Online Poker?

Anything could happen, but there’s precious little to indicate that such a thing is probable in North Carolina.  While over a dozen US states have taken some public action in the general direction of regulation following the Department of Justice’s 2011 rethinking of the Wire Act, North Carolina has yet to even take the most basic of steps toward the goal of regulating online poker sites in NC.  As we’ll discuss below, there are a number of types of gambling likely ahead of online poker in line, making the chances of North Carolina-regulated poker games online even dimmer still.

North Carolina Gambling Facts

North Carolina has essentially fought gambling expansion at nearly every turn.  The state was very late to the lottery, selling their first ticket in 2006.  The state also battled fiercely (albeit unsuccessfully) against the tribes who sought to open casinos within North Carolina’s borders.  As a result, North Carolina has one of the briefest and most limited histories with gambling of any state in the US.

What are the Regulated Gambling Options in North Carolina?

You won’t find pari-mutuel wagering or commercial casinos in North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a substantial amount of regulated gambling options in the state.  In addition to the lottery and charitable gambling activities, the state also hosts two tribal gambling facilities, including the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel.

As it currently stands, there are no forms of online gambling that are directly overseen or regulated by the government of North Carolina.  That’s not to say all forms are illegal – after all, plenty of things that the government does not regulate are perfectly legal.  What it does mean is that there is no such thing as an online poker room, casino or similar site that holds a license issued by or approval from the North Carolina state government.

North Carolina Gambling: Additional Research

History of Gambling Expansion in NC.  In-depth article from local new station WRAL that covers North Carolina’s relatively brief and often-conflicted relationship with regulated gambling.

North Carolina Lottery .  Official site for the NC State Lottery.

FindLaw: North Carolina Gambling Law.  Synopsis of gambling law in NC and links to additional resources.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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