Legal, regulated online poker sites in the US offer a safe game that you won’t inherently find if you use offshore, unregulated (at least not by US gaming authorities) poker sites.
With that in mind, this guide will help you determine what exactly constitutes a safe online poker site. The goal is to help you sign up, deposit and play at only the most trusted and reliable poker sites.
When you play poker online for real money, safety and security are paramount. That includes ensuring:
- The game itself is fair.
- Your funds are always secure.
- Proper security is in place and persistent, effective efforts are in place to identify any hints of player collusion.
If you’re worried about finding a safe poker site to play on, this page we’ll answer all your questions including:
- What are the safest US online poker sites?
- What are the signs and features of the safest poker sites?
- How do you know it’s a safe poker site?
- Are poker apps safe?
- How do I avoid “unsafe” poker sites?
List of the safest poker sites for US players
The US online poker market consists of some of the most trusted names in online gaming. You can trust these major brands to offer you plenty of action in a secure and fair environment.
Among them will be many names you likely recognize including PokerStars, partypoker, WSOP, 888poker and Borgata Poker. If you don’t live in a fully legalized and licensed online poker state, Global Poker is a trusted and safe sweepstakes poker site many players use.
So far, these are the operators that offer legal and safe real money online poker in the US:
1. PokerStars – $50 in free tourney tickets (NJ, MI, PA)
- Available in Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Jersey.
- Largest online poker operator in the world.
- Great software, downloadable poker app
- Incredible tournament selection and variety with big guaranteed prize pools.
- Numerous promotions and major tournament series throughout the year
- Home Games feature to set up and play private poker games and tournaments with friends online
- First-class customer support team on call 24/7
- Industry-leading security protocols to monitor fair play & collusion
2. Partypoker/Borgata Poker/BetMGM – $25/$20/$25 Free
- Available in New Jersey (partypoker/BetMGM/Borgata), Michigan (BetMGM) and Pennsylvania (BetMGM/Borgata)
- Leader in poker industry and major gaming brand in New Jersey, Michigan and abroad.
- Partypoker offers qualifiers for its live events.
- Borgata Poker & BetMGM Poker skins offer qualifiers to live events at the property.
3. WSOP.com – $10 free + $50 free on deposit
- Available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Nevada.
- It shares a liquidity market in the two states and with 888poker in Delaware.
- The site uses partner 888poker’s software.
- Offers online bracelet events and live WSOP event qualifiers.
- World-renowned brand with commitment to customer service and player protection
4. 888poker.com – $20 Free
- Available in New Jersey and Delaware.
- Remains the sole online poker operator in Delaware.
- Partners with WSOP on qualifiers.
- It’s a proven international brand with excellent poker experience.
Is Global Poker a safe, legal and legitimate online poker option?
If you’re outside the regulated markets mentioned above, you have another option: Global Poker.
This site is based on a poker sweepstakes model. Global Poker’s sweepstakes license (like the one given to McDonald’s Monopoly game) makes playing its free sweeps cash games legal in much of the US and Canada.
The site is based more on social gaming than traditional online poker. Players use virtual chips (Gold Coins) they can win for playing, but these don’t have any cash value and they can’t redeem them for USD.
However, when purchasing more Gold Coins, you also receive the site’s sweepstakes currency called Sweeps Coins. This virtual currency can be used for Sweeps Coin tournaments and ring games. Unlike Gold Coins, accumulated Sweeps Coins can be redeemed for cash prizes.
Global Poker offers a safe and secure alternative for poker players. VGW Holdings Limited, a publicly traded company incorporated in Australia, owns Global Poker. The site is also licensed and regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority.
Alongside the playing experience, excellent customer service and easy deposit and withdrawal methods have been confirmed with Global Poker. Like the regulated casino poker sites mentioned above, security and safety hasn’t been a concern.
What is a safe poker site?
So what should you consider when getting started with online poker? Some signs will easily show a poker site is safe and regulated. Here’s what to look for:
1. Safe poker sites are licensed and regulated by states
In the US, there are six states currently set for legalized online poker:
- New Jersey online poker sites
- Pennsylvania online poker sites
- Nevada online poker sites
- Delaware online poker sites
- Michigan online poker sites
West Virginia online poker was also legalized in 2018/2019 but has not gone live yet. All six states feature a completely legal and regulated market overseen by state government authorities.
Just like traditional retail casinos and poker rooms, reliable online poker sites face strict licensing and regulation. The sites can only operate in complete compliance and enforcement.
2. Safe poker sites use proper technical security and geolocation
These regulations make your information and funds secure. Legal and licensed online casinos and poker sites have systems in place to offer numerous player protections that are required by state laws and regulations.
Geolocation software also makes sure all players are located within the legal jurisdiction. State regulators require this technology to keep the game safe from outside influences.
Another key security issue is the prevention of player collusion and gameplay issues like chip dumping. Each operator monitors gameplay in this way. Software monitoring commonly uncovers player collusion and discrepancies. It assures you of a safe and fair game of poker.
3. Safe poker sites have proper deposit and cash out methods
Along with gameplay, safe online poker sites ensure your funds are secure. That goes likewise for the deposit and cash out process. Whether you fund your account through e-check, debit card or another form of payment (e.g., some poker sites now accept PayPal), the licensed poker site ensures your personal information, account and other information are secure.
Players who use offshore, illegal poker sites will not encounter measures as stringent and have no way to know if their funds and information are safe. They also have little to no recourse if their funds are confiscated or their account is closed.
4. Safe poker sites have government oversight
Poker sites in legalized US states are regulated by laws and rules enforced by those states’ gaming commissions. This statute should give you a level of confidence in secure online poker rooms that don’t come with using unregulated poker sites.
In the legalized states that can offer online poker, the regulating bodies are:
- Nevada Gaming Control Board
- New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
- Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
- Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement
- Michigan Gaming Control Board
- West Virginia Lottery Commission
The entities ensure that play is truly random through random number generators and that the game is fair for everyone playing. They also monitor to make sure payouts are made fairly and that operators follow proper and legal procedures.
5. Safe poker sites have proper channels for customer service and disputes
The gaming regulators in each state offer recourse for those who may have a complaint or dispute. Reputable poker sites also provide customer service support for those looking to ask a question or have an issue resolved.
Most operators offer several means to contact customer service and support, including:
- An FAQ section
- User help database
- Email support
- Live chat
- Customer service phone number
How do I know it’s a safe and trustworthy poker site?
There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting an online poker operator. Beyond state regulators and gaming commissions, some other factors can help ensure numerous player protections:
- State-Approved Partnerships: Each online poker operator must have a live casino partner in each state. Casinos must meet extensive regulations, and this adds to player safety. It also gives you a local, trusted brand.
- Reputable Companies: In addition, most companies offering online poker within each state are trusted and proven brands. Many are also public companies and not the fly-by-night operations one might find in the offshore, unregulated market.
- Approvals and Inspections: Each legal site has a seal or statement somewhere on the home page, which indicates it is a regulated site. For example, PokerStars NJ has a link to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. These sites are regularly inspected and monitored by these commissions.
- Mainstream Deposit and Cash Out Methods: Along with being regulated and having casinos in the jurisdiction as partners, trusted online poker sites use accepted, mainstream deposit and withdrawal methods. Those include PayPal, e-checks, bank transfers, e-wallets, and debit and credit cards, among other options. Some even allow deposits at a casino partner’s cashier cage. You can also expect quick turnarounds on withdrawals as well.
- Support and Customer Service: Reliable poker sites offer numerous ways to help with an issue or concern, from email and FAQ to live chat and a customer service phone number. Offshore operators might not provide this support.
- SSL Encryption: A critical focus in the security effort, secure sockets layer (SSL) is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client. It helps keep your player information private and safe.
How to download a safe online poker site and set up an account
Because of SSL and encryption technology, downloading a poker app or desktop-based poker client is exceptionally secure. The same goes for depositing and cashing out.
Unlike offshore and unregulated sites, legal online poker sites guarantee your funds are safe and secure. Trouble or long delays getting payouts are a common complaint about unregulated sites, but this is not an issue if you use regulated, secure and reliable poker sites as mentioned here.
Downloading is simple. Simply use any of the links above to get started, which will also allow you to take advantage of the listed free no deposit poker bonuses and the additional deposit match bonuses.
You then enter some necessary information like name, address, email, username and password. Once that’s complete, you may have to confirm your identity and email.
Deposit and withdrawal methods at a legal online poker site
After getting an account set up, making a deposit is also a simple process. Reliable online poker sites offer several safe deposit methods, including:
- E-check bank payments (ACH transfers)
- Visa or Mastercard
- Wire payments
- E-wallets, such as Neteller and Skrill
- Cash at partner casinos
When cashing out your winnings, the process is safe and secure as well. You can receive your winnings back via the method you used to deposit.
Trusted poker sites offer fast and secure payouts through several options. Some offer a paper check option for payouts as well. Many even provide cash payouts from casino partners at the cashier cage.
What’s one thing you don’t have to worry about with a regulated site? Funds not being there or disappearing out of the blue.
Your funds are not intermingled with operator or casino funds at a secure, legal poker site. The money is held in separate accounts and available to you 24/7 so you can feel confident that your funds are safe.
Are poker apps safe?
As online poker has grown, the use of mobile phones and tablets has become an even more popular way to play in the last several years. All major safe US poker sites offer mobile poker apps for iPhone/iPad and Android devices with excellent app interfaces .
Secure poker app providers include:
Poker apps provide the same security as desktop poker clients. Apps must still meet tight regulations from each jurisdiction’s gaming commission. Poker apps also include geolocation software to make sure every player is within the state offering legal online poker.
How do I keep my poker account secure?
Regulated and reliable online poker sites offer a secure environment for signing up, depositing, cashing out and playing. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that your online poker experience remains safe.
Here are a few security recommendations:
- Use proper security protocols when depositing.
- Be careful when playing on public Wi-Fi.
- Don’t share usernames or passwords with anyone.
- Make passwords challenging to figure out.
- Don’t leave a game open on a device or computer that’s unattended.
How do I recognize an ‘unsafe’ poker site?
This question is good to keep in mind when jumping into online poker for the first time. Many offshore poker sites will not offer any regulatory information or display the legal seal of an appropriate governing body or regulatory commission.
They may also feature more obscure website addresses and not be a well-known brand. Offshore operators may also make use of less scrupulous deposit methods, which come with many security concerns.
Some unregulated poker sites make it challenging to find where they are based. It is a red flag as to the site’s legitimacy and security protocols. Your player funds may not be safe with these sites or using their deposit options.
You should never use a questionable deposit method. Also, transferring funds to players you don’t know can be sketchy. Look out for these types of scams on unregulated poker sites.
Safest poker sites FAQ
After considering all these facts and concepts, here are some key ideas to remember:
What do I do if I think I’m playing on an unsafe poker site?
Research the site and determine if it’s a legitimate US poker site. If not, look for a legal option, including those mentioned in this guide. You may want to withdraw your funds from an offshore site and use a legitimate, secure option.
How do I know if a poker site is reputable?
Make sure it’s a legal US site by looking for signs that it’s licensed by a state regulating body. However, beware of imposters that may represent themselves as a legal option. When in doubt, contact your state gaming commission to see if the site falls under its jurisdiction.
Is it safe to play against players from other countries?
Legal US online poker uses “fenced-in” markets, and only players within specific states can play. Any site featuring players from other countries doesn’t fall in line with American law. It can be a major security issue, and you should avoid these sites.
Are Bitcoin poker sites safe?
Again, many of these sites use cryptocurrency to get around American law. Just because a site accepts a deposit doesn’t mean that it’s a legal, regulated site. Review this article for websites that are legal in the US, including sweepstakes poker sites like Global Poker.
Do I need to worry about viruses from poker sites?
Regulated online poker sites offer secure, safe environments. They meet rigorous licensing, technology and regulatory requirements to stay in business and to keep serving players. You will never download any malware or viruses from a legal and regulated poker site.