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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
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Is online poker legal in New Hampshire?

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Is online poker legal in New Hampshire?
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

The answer is... maybe. Allow me to explain.

There are two levels of law that apply here - federal and state.

Federal law used to see online poker as a violation of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 (aka Wire Act) which is a law that has very broad verbiage and was originally interpreted by the authorities and the Courts to include online poker. Multiple individuals were prosecuted federally for online gambling, including online poker. In December 2012, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel clarified its position regarding the Wire Act. The DOJ concluded that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting. This means that under federal law - at least for now - online poker is lawful. I would not even call it lawful. More like tolerated.

NH law is also vague.

In NH, gambling is: "to risk something of value upon a future contingent event not under one's control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that something of value will be received in the event of a certain outcome" (Section 647:2(II(d))).

It's a misdemeanor if someone "conducts, finances, manages, supervises, directs, or owns all or part of a business and such person knowingly and unlawfully permits gambling on the premises of the business" (Section 647:2(I-a)). However, if that gambling generates more than $2,000 in a day, operates for more than 10 days or takes in over $5,000 in wagers over a 30 day period, the charge is a felony.

Whether "online poker" is part of this definition is unclear. This is very much a case of technology moving faster than the law.

As such, the law is: tolerated under federal, ambiguous under state. It is still a risk, because at any time, NH authorities may decide to prosecute. Although they are more likely to pursue the site owners than the players, the risk is still there.

Therefore, it is not a good idea to engage in this activity, and if one does, it may be perhaps best to do so with a site that is reputable but hosts its servers outside of the USA.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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