Indiana is one of a handful of states that have adopted laws governing online gambling. Under Indiana Code 35-45-5-2(c), operators who use the Internet to engage in unlawful gambling in Indiana or with anyone located in Indiana commits a felony.
Is poker considered “gambling” in Indiana? You bet it is. Gambling, in Indiana, is defined at IC 35-45-5-1(d) as “risking money or other property for gain, contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance or the operation of a gambling device, but it does not include participating in bona fide contests of skill, speed, strength, or endurance in which awards are made only to entrants or owners of entries.”
While that sounds a lot like the Dominant Factor test, a further caveat to the definition appears at IC 35-45-5-1(l). That section explicitly provides that “for purposes of this [statute], a card game or an electronic version of a card game is a game of chance and may not be considered a bona fide contest of skill.”
What’s even worse for operators is that Indiana’s law tries to shoehorn the jurisdictional argument out of the equation by providing at IC 35-45-5-4.5 that transmitting gambling information via computer when the operators should know that is being broadcast in Indiana thereby submits to jurisdiction in Indiana.
The one silver lining is that Indiana’s internet gambling statute only targets operators. It does not target players.
One of the best things about Indiana is that there’s no need to get into the whole skill versus chance debate as it applies to poker. The state fully regulates poker under its Riverboat Gaming Statute, which allows for full-fledged excursion gaming boat (i.e., floating casinos).
In fact, the Indiana Administrate Code governing the Indiana Gaming Commission and riverboat gaming, goes so far as to define poker (68 IAC 1-1-69) as “a card game played by a maximum of ten (10) players who are dealt cards by a nonplayer dealer. The object of the game is for each player to bet the superiority of his or her own hand and win the other players’ bets by either making a bet no other player is willing to match or proving to hold the most valuable cards after all the betting is over.”
All told the state has about a dozen casinos, many of which have robust poker rooms.
Oddly, there does not appear to be any social or home game exception to Indiana’s gambling laws. Home games are technically illegal under Indiana law and would violate the Indiana prohibition against illegal gambling, although there is no record of any prosecution for such games.
Indiana is contemplating expanded gaming option in 2015, including the restrictions currently in place regarding riverboat casinos.