Is real money poker legal in Arizona?

While most states in the U.S. have pretty clear gambling laws, things are less clear in Arizona. Some people will say that gambling is legal in Arizona so it is okay to play. Others will tell you about anti-gambling laws and about those who have been prosecuted. So, which one is it — legal or illegal? Read on to find out what we learned about playing poker in Arizona.

1. Casino poker

Like most of the country, Arizona does not have casinos on public land. However, there are upwards of 30 casinos operating on Native American territory. Some of the most popular ones include Harrah’s Ak-Chin, Vee Quiva, and Desert Diamond, to name a few. In these venues, it is perfectly legal to play poker for real money – and with restrictions easing for public events, these venues should also be quite active throughout 2022.

2. Online poker

This is where the laws in Arizona are somewhat confusing. In recent years we have seen some states legalizing online poker played with real money. Arizona is not one of them. However, unlike a lot of states, Arizona also does not expressly prohibit online poker, which can be interpreted by some people as – there is no law that prohibits it, therefore it is not illegal.

The result of this is that those looking to play online poker in Arizona are likely to be able to access real-money sites that people in other states can’t. They are also unlikely to face consequences – though it is something of a gray area.

3. Private poker games

So long as a huge cut isn’t being taken by the host, it’s generally legal to host poker games and play among friends with money on the line. However, the restrictions that do exist in Arizona pertain to “individuals or organizations that operate or promote illegal gambling,” which are primarily aimed at those who own or manage illegal gaming establishments. The law has never been used to prosecute someone for playing poker.

As many have learned from the movie Molly’s Game, the term taking a rake in privately hosted poker games – which is basically a commission for the host, implies the use of real money in these games. As in the movie, too large a rake can mean big trouble!

4. Will Arizona explicitly legalize online poker?

It’s not out of the question, but there is no current indication of movement in this direction so far. As stated earlier, Arizona already has numerous casinos on private Native American territory and they have been nothing short of thriving. But Arizona’s online gaming industry is not yet set in stone, so no one knows if it is legal or prohibited. At this point, anything is possible. Only time will tell if online poker will be legalized.

Online gambling has yet to be addressed in Arizona law because, as of this writing, there is no state law that clearly prohibits online poker. On the other hand, there is no law that permits online poker. Many other states are making updates to their legislation, so the prudent thing to do is wait for the authorities to make an official announcement.