Indiana Online Poker Laws
Indiana law does state that “professional” internet gambling is illegal and punishable. The lottery was approved by Indiana voters in 1988, and riverboat gambling became legal five years later. The first riverboat casino was in Evansville and opened its doors in 1995, with five more opening around the state in 1996, two more in 1997, and yet another in 1998. The laws were changed in 2002 to remove the sailing requirement, and land-based casinos were allowed. There are now 14 casinos in total.
There are also two Native American-run casinos, per the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians first had to garner federal recognition, which happened in 1994, and they then began to work on a compact with Indiana for their first casino. That Four Winds New Buffalo casino opened in 2007, and the new Four Winds South Bend just opened in January 2018.
Of the horse tracks in Indiana, they gained the approval of the state to install video gaming terminals in 2006. A more recent approval of slot machines for those tracks now qualifies them as racinos, complete with pari-mutuel wagering and slot games.
Latest Developments Regarding Online Poker in Indiana
In 2015, lawmakers in Indiana began to examine the possibilities of sports betting and daily fantasy sports. Two bills were filed that year to legalize those activities through the racinos of Indiana, but neither bill made it through a committee hearing.
Another attempt to pass the same sports betting and DFS bills in 2016 failed as well. While the Senate seemed open to the opportunities and potential revenue, members of the House were not ready for it.
Only days into 2018, several members of the legislature brought up sports betting and DFS yet again. The sports betting option relies on the outcome of the United States Supreme Court, which is set to rule in the first few months of 2018 on the New Jersey case regarding sports wagering. If New Jersey wins, many states are set to give serious consideration to sports betting, and Indiana is one of them. However, it does not seem as if legislators are interested in attaching any type of online poker or casino game wording to any current bills.
Indiana Laws Pertinent to Online Poker
The Indiana Code puts gambling in Title 35 about criminal laws and procedures. It defines gambling as “risking money or other property for gain, contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, or the operation of a gambling device.” And a gambling device is defined as one that the right to money or property can be credited as a result of the “operation of an element of chance” or one that is designed primarily for use in connection with professional gambling.
There are definitions pertinent to online gambling as well. For example, an interactive computer service means an “internet service, an information, a system, or an access software provider that provides or enables computer access to a computer served by multiple users.” Further, it describes an operator as “a person who owns, maintains, or operates as internet site that is used for interactive gambling.”
Professional gambling over the internet in Title 35-45-5-3 specifically addresses online poker and casino games but dubs it professional gambling by definition of “a person who knowingly or intentionally” does any of the following:
- Engages in pool-selling
- Engages in bookmaking
- Maintains slot machines
- Conducts lotteries or numbers games
- Conducts banking or percentage games with dice or cards
- Accepts money or other property risked in gambling for profit
Professional gambling can also include an operator who
“knowingly or intentionally uses the internet” to… maintain, on an internet site accessible to residents of Indiana, the equivalent of slot machines, one-all machines, pinball machines, roulette wheels, dice tables, or money or merchandise. It can also refer to anyone who conducts “any banking or percentage games played with the computer equivalent of cards, dice, or counters.”
Finally, a professional gambling offense can include any person knowingly or intentionally using the internet to commit “professional gambling over the internet.” This and other professional gambling activities via the internet can be classified as Level 6 felonies.
An operator discovered to be offering professional gambling must receive a 30-day notice from the prosecuting attorney to remove the gambling activity from the website or face criminal charges. Further,
“a person outside Indiana who transmits information on a computer network and who knows or should know that the information is broadcast in Indiana submits to the jurisdiction of Indiana courts for prosecution.”
Yet another law directed at online gambling operators is serious, and it makes Indiana one of the few states that has written their state code in such great detail as to specify the crimes and punishments for gambling activities on the internet directed at people in Indiana.
Indiana’s Gaming Control Division offers an FAQ section of its website, where it even more specifically answers a question regarding poker as a game of chance. The question asks if card games like poker are games of chance. The answer reads, “Yes. The illegal gambling statute specifically provides that “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.” Thus, games like poker and euchre are considered gambling if played for money.” It also states that “a person who, knowingly or intentionally, engages in unlawful gambling commits a Class B misdemeanor.”
The statutes of Indiana could not be clearer that poker on the internet is a violation of the state’s laws, and both players and operators can be prosecuted.
Disclaimer: This is not written by an attorney and is not or should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for help interpreting these laws as they pertain to any given situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Would you advise someone to play online poker from Indiana?
Answer: Only an attorney with specific knowledge of Indiana law would be able to advice correctly on this matter. We simply provide options for online players who want to compete, as there are several poker sites that continue to cater to Indiana residents in 2018.
Question: Would Indiana prosecute online poker players?
Answer: The state has, thus far, not chosen to prosecute online poker operators or players, though the law clearly states that the activities are crimes and can be prosecuted. There is no indication that law enforcement officials have any plans to do so, though.
Question: Can I still deposit online to play poker?
Answer: Yes. The sites that offer online poker to players in Indiana offer several ways to deposit funds into an online poker account. Bitcoin is becoming the most popular method, but deposits can also be done via credit cards and, in some cases, bank wires.
Gaming Resources in Indiana