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Arizona Legal Poker

Last Update: April 4, 2015

Online Poker

Arizona has not enacted any statute that squarely deals with online gambling or online poker. The gambling statutes criminalize “benefiting from gambling” – which means knowingly deriving any benefit from gambling – as a misdemeanor under ARS §13-3304.

While that statute would arguably cover internet poker, which is definitely not regulated gambling or social gambling under Arizona law, no internet poker prosecution has ever been brought by Arizona authorities. As the remainder of Arizona’s gambling criminal statutes target operators, and given the prevalence of regulated gambling within the state, it seems reasonable to conclude that online play in Arizona would at least be tacitly tolerated.

Live Poker

Although the state does not directly regulate poker or casino operations itself, between tribal poker, bar poker and home games, Arizona is a veritable live poker paradise. The state boasts upwards of two dozen tribal casinos that legally operate under the regulatory watch of the National Indian Gaming Commission. About half of those casinos offer live poker tournaments or cash games.
Section 13-3302 of the Arizona Revised Statutes declares that social gambling – what basically amount to home games or games in which nobody profits from the operation of the game – and “regulated gambling” are not unlawful in Arizona. Regulated gambling includes gambling that takes place in tribal casinos, as regulated by the NIGC, and gambling operated in accordance with Arizona or federal law.

Outside of tribal casinos and home games, the only poker permitted by Arizona law is charitable poker and bar league poker. In each case, the games must be run without a buy-in requirement, no cover charge, no forced donation, and no requirement to purchase food or drink. Essentially, the actual poker play itself must be free, and no player can receive cash as winnings.

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