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Indiana is among the few states that's updated their gambling laws to cover online poker, and you won't like the results. Playing online poker is completely illegal in the Hoosier State, so don't even try it!
Yes and no. As of 2013, online poker in Indiana is illegal for persons to operate an online poker site, but players themselves are not mentioned. So it's still a gray area and players can log in with little fear of being charged of a crime. Read on to discover more.
Indiana's documented gambling history dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s and continues on to today's struggles with online poker in Indiana. In the beginning, gambling was simple and rare, but existent despite the laws. One instance happened in 1901 when gamblers took trains from Chicago to the Long Beach Turf Exchange, which was referred to by many as the Monte Carlo of America. Authorities stayed away, and armed guards protected patrons who wanted to gamble. Publicity led to its eventual downfall via Indiana authorities. Then there was the Big House, just across the state border from Chicago that offered customers cabs to come to Indiana to play craps and roulette, bookmaking, and more. The Big House operated from 1929 to 1950 and was reportedly mob-run. By the time of its shutdown, others like the 825 Club were offering similar services to patrons. Most of them closed in the 1970s, though, when authorities finally cracked down on the illegal activities.
Q. With Illinois considering legal online poker after the 2011 Department of Justice ruling, wouldn't it make sense for Indiana to consider it as well?
A. It would make sense, but Indiana online poker is not being considered by the state legislature. Should Illinois pursue it further and proceed toward imminent legalization, Indiana might be persuaded to give it a second look.
Q. What's the difference between allowing land-based casinos and online casinos?
A. Many legislators fear that Indiana poker sites on the Internet would be difficult and open the market to potential crimes. The Internet is wide open and scary territory for legislators who are unfamiliar with safety mechanisms to protect players in such an endeavor.
Q. How will Indiana react to federal legislation if it passes?
A. While states will have the ability to opt out of any federal legislation, Indiana might actually consider the potential for revenue at that point. With the safety and security measures being taken on a federal level, Indiana could reap some of the benefits of online poker in Indiana without having to establish the framework and handle the regulation.
Q. Are there any Indiana legislators in support of online gambling sites?
A. There are likely some members of the state legislature open to Indiana online poker, and maybe even gambling in general, but it will take a lot of effort and research to provide the basis for introducing a bill. And there would need to be support from a number of legislators before any bill could be considered.
Modern-day gambling, long before the possibility of Indiana poker sites, began in 1988 with the voter-authorized establishment of the Hoosier Lottery. The law was made official in 1989, and the first tickets were sold later that year. Proceeds went to education, public services, and other Indiana needs. Several years later, the Riverboat Gaming Act was passed in 1993, which allowed 10 riverboat casinos to operate, the first of which opened in 1995. Much later, in 2004, the number of riverboat casinos was increased by legislation, and eventually, land-based casinos were authorized as well. In addition, in 2004, Hoosier Park opened for horse racing, and five cities had tracks by the following year. Charitable gambling is also explicitly permitted by Indiana law.
While modern-day Indiana has begun to embrace gambling in various forms, including fully-stocked casinos, online gambling is still a touchy subject. Social live poker begins to draw the line, as it is illegal but not specifically called out in state laws. However, authorities have had no problem raiding the occasional home game in which a profit is being taken by the operator. Operating online poker sites in Indiana, however, is especially forbidden. Code 35-45-5 specifies severe punishment for an operator "who knowingly or intentionally uses the internet to engage in unlawful gambling" and names maintaining online gambling sites in that group of felony activities.
Gambling revenues are significant in Indiana, as the lottery alone brings in millions of dollars. More than $230 million was set aside as Indiana revenue in 2011 alone. All in all, there are 13 casinos in operation in the state, two of which are racinos (combination race track and casino). With most of them reporting, annual tax revenue exceeds $646 million per year. The industry employs more than 14,000 people and attracts more than 25 million visitors. Even more revenue could be included in the aforementioned numbers if Indiana online poker would be legalized.
Several of the casinos are well-known, including Ameristar in East Chicago and Majestic Star in Gary, Indiana. The Horseshoe Casino Hammond has been a stop on the World Series of Poker Circuit for several years, as the casino hosts poker tournaments for players from all over the United States. In addition, the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg was the home of several World Poker Tour events. Some casinos have expressed an interest in Indiana poker sites but do not have enough support to pursue the issue in Indiana's legislature. To contact legislators, visit this site: Indiana Legislative Contacts.