Playing online poker for real money in North Carolina – as in other states – can be confusing for players. Two of the biggest points of confusion are whether internet betting is legal in the state, and whether the state views poker as a game of chance.
According to North Carolina state laws as they stand inf August 2022, it is a felony to bet on a game of chance. Nevertheless, no player in North Carolina has ever been prosecuted or charged for playing online poker.
With that in mind, let’s discuss the history of poker and gambling in North Carolina.
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History of Gambling In North Carolina
The first official mention of gambling in North Carolina appears in the 1700s, when the General Assembly of the time adopted a statue from the English. The statute discouraged immoderate and excessive gambling debts of any amount. It also banned gambling in public.
The state repealed the anti-gambling statute in 1784 in order to raise revenue for the government. The government of the time imposed taxes on playing card decks and dice. The legislature deemed new games such as “even or odd” to be “an evil species of gaming” and they were subject to high taxes before being fully banned alongside table games in 1791.
All gambling was banned, except for lotteries authorized to fundraise for certain causes. For instance, a lottery in 1761 was approved to raise money for navigation enhancements on the New River. 1826 also saw a lottery attempt to raise $15,000 for Judge Archibald Murphey to create a book on North Carolina history. For 26 years – 1809 to 1835 – the North Carolina legislature approved 62 lotteries. It wasn’t until 1835 that the legislature barred them due to a countrywide anti-lottery movement.
Sweepstakes and Video Poker
In the 1990s, video poker machines were prevalent in the state until regulation in 2000 placed a limit of 3 machines per location. The legislation also barred the installation of new devices. In 2006, the state had an estimated 10,000 legal machines left. There were also an estimated 20,000 illegal machines. The state senate attempted to ban the game five times over the years; however, these attempts were blocked by Jim Black, the then House Speaker. It wasn’t until 2007 that a complete ban came into effect after a one-year phase-out.
Due to the ban, a host of sweepstakes parlors appeared, taking advantage of a legal loophole by providing customers the chance to win only if they purchased pre-paid phone or internet time. The General Assembly in 2010 attempted to close these parlors by banning any video sweepstakes with “an entertaining display.” Nevertheless, the ban didn’t come into effect until 2013 due to various legal challenges from the gambling industry.
North Carolina has two federally recognized tribes operating three casinos within the state. The Catawba Indian Nation operates the Catawba Two Kings Casino located in Kings Mountain, while the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians operates the Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River and Harrah’s Cherokee casinos on its Qualla Boundary, located in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Tribal gambling activity first began in 1982 with high-stakes bingo games. This was possible due to a federal court decision to exempt Indian reservations from state legal limits on bingo cash prizes. 1994 saw the Cherokee tribe reach an agreement with the then-governor under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The act allowed for the construction of a casino filled with electronic games that required dexterity or skill.
Another negotiation with the state government in 2012 resulted in the Harrah’s Cherokee casino offering table games, and the construction of a second casino.
With so many conflicting laws, it can be difficult for online poker players in NC to know where they stand. With that in mind, let’s discover North Carolina’s gambling laws.
North Carolina Gambling Laws
As stated earlier, gambling in North Carolina can be tricky. The consensus is that gambling is illegal in the state; however, alternatives and recent laws have caused certain forms of gambling to be legalized.
In this section, we will highlight the important details surrounding the complicated gambling laws in North Carolina.
According to the law, North Carolina deems participating in and promoting gambling activities to be illegal. Section 14-292 of the General Statute classifies it as a Class 2 Misdemeanor. Anyone arrested on this charge can face one to six days of community service.
While this might seem scary, the fortunate thing is that the gambling laws in North Carolina clearly distinguish between simply engaging in gambling activities and operating said activities. If a resident of the state was to pay money and play an illegal gambling game, that individual wouldn’t be charged with any crime – they could just walk away.
However, a person who operates and generates gambling revenue will be charged. You should note that gaining revenue doesn’t mean North Carolina online poker players placing and winning a few bets. This distinction is for those who actively make money from operating the game in question.
Laws on Casino Gaming
As a result of the extremely strict gambling laws, land-based casinos – except for tribal casinos – are banned within the state. As stated earlier, the first anti-gambling measures were recorded in 1749 as a way to protect citizens from developing massive debts due to excessive gambling.
Fortunately, the advent of the internet has opened other gaming avenues for players that want to play online poker for real money in North Carolina.
As it stands, three tribal casinos operate within the state. The biggest is Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel and Casino, which has been operating since 1997. Initially, it offered just video poker games; however, the casino expanded to slot and bingo.
In 2012, the casino expanded again to offer craps, poker, and blackjack. Furthermore, North Carolina’s gambling laws categorize casino games as skill-based, so citizens can play skill-based games with no issue.
Online Casinos and North Carolina
As with other types of wagering, in theory, online casinos cannot function within the state. Nevertheless, the law doesn’t stop players within North Carolina from playing online poker in North Carolina, so long as the sites are located offshore. What this means is that the answer to the question “Is online poker legal in NC?” Is Yes, NC online poker players can enjoy playing online poker for real money in North Carolina.
Due to their location, these offshore sites are not subject to the gambling laws of North Carolina, so long as they meet all the required certifications and licenses.
Video poker and poker tournaments are fully banned in the state except for in tribal casinos. In 2012, North Carolina changed its gambling laws to enable casinos to host live poker tournaments and games. At this moment, only Harrah’s Cherokee Casino provides a live poker room; however, it also has electronic poker tables for low-wager players.
Sports Betting in North Carolina
Until recently, North Carolina banned sports betting. The only option citizens had was fantasy sports sites – while not legal, they weren’t criminalized. Nevertheless, Senate Bill 154 was passed in 2019 to officially classify sports betting as Class III gaming. This 2019 law enables tribal casinos to provide retail sportsbooks, thereby providing North Carolina players a legal option for the game.
Bingo and Lottery Gambling Laws
As with neighboring states, bingo and lottery games in North Carolina are examples of legal ways for people to gamble. The lottery, run by the state, is completely legal, and citizens can purchase scratch cards or play keno.
Bingo games and raffles are organized by non-profit and charity organizations; however, the state places severe restrictions on prizes and how often they can be held. There is a cap on bingo cash prizes –$500 — and raffles at $10,000. Nevertheless, raffles can provide a non-cash prize maximum of $50,000.
North Carolina allows for an additional form of legal gambling. The state enables beach bingo games to be created by anyone; however, the prizes are capped at $10.
Laws on Greyhound and Horse Racing
Greyhound racing in North Carolina has been illegal since the 1950s and remains so today. Horse racing is classified as Class III gaming, meaning individuals can place off-track bets at tribal casinos. They can even play against the casino.
Nevertheless, parimutuel betting – which is betting that pits players against each other on the track – is still illegal. The only option for citizens in North Carolina is to bet at offshore online sportsbook sites. This is quite surprising considering that horse racing has been extremely popular in the state since the 1700s.
With that in mind, here are the best NC online poker sites.
Best NC online poker sites
Café Casino can be described as the best North Carolina real-money online poker site for poker bonuses. It has a generous welcome bonus that is sure to attract any player. It also has a quick turnaround on withdrawals ensuring players don’t have to deal with any delays when taking their winnings out.
Café Casino, as its name states, is an all-around casino; however, that doesn’t mean its poker section is substandard. This online poker site offers a few poker variants, including video poker, to ensure that NC online poker players are satisfied. There are also slots and table games for players looking to take a break from poker.
As mentioned earlier, it has the best welcome bonuses, and there are a host of other promotional offers for players to enjoy if they visit the casino regularly.
Unlike other real-money online poker sites in this list, Café Casino doesn’t focus on offering a poker-heavy site. Nevertheless, its poker offerings are good enough to entice even the seasoned NC online poker player. It is a great choice for those that would like a decent online poker experience with generous bonuses and other game variants to enjoy.
PokerStars is one of the largest real-money online poker sites out there. It has been in operation for over 20 years and is known for its reliable and fast payouts. In terms of traffic, this online poker site is one of the best, with about 6000 players passing through the site daily.
With so many players, it is no surprise that PokerStars runs a daily tournament program. Each tournament is capable of attracting a massive number of players. Mobile players are not left out of the fun, thanks to PokerStars’ mobile client.
Players might be frustrated due to the decreased rewards and the lack of a rakeback; however, there are a plethora of payment options to select from. This site has been created with all players in mind, especially serious players looking to have fun and win.
For players looking for a soft poker site, Juicy Stakes is the place to be. Its cash games and tournaments are softer than any other North Carolina online poker site. It even has a high rakeback at 36%. Players at this poker site can have a great time as both recreational and pro players are welcome. The welcome extended to new players comes in the form of a generous welcome bonus.
There is a drawback to Juicy Stakes; however, high rollers are less likely to find tables due to the low volume of traffic. Nevertheless, recreation and low-stake players will enjoy this North Carolina online poker site thanks to its small buy-in tournaments.
Black Chip Poker
Black Chip Poker is a great site for North Carolina online poker players. It is part of the Winning Poker Network, which means it gets a decent amount of traffic. That traffic translates to lots of players for the site’s massive tournament prize pools. At any point, Black Chip Poker has over 100 active tables, ensuring NC online poker players don’t have to queue too long to play their favorite games.
One thing Black Chip Poker lacks is a mobile client. This means mobile players are out of luck. The site does make up for this with other features such as an excellent VIP program and cash prizes as large as $1,000,000 in its tournaments.
HUD is supported, so players can pay close attention to their stats and strategies. Furthermore, while other online poker sites stick to the traditional payment options, Black Chip Poker goes a step further to offer Bitcoin as a payment method.
Americas Cardroom is known as the bitcoin poker site as it was one of the first to allow online poker players to deposit and make withdrawals using the cryptocurrency. It has been in operation since 2001, and while it doesn’t have the same volume of traffic as other online poker NC sites on this list, it is still a great place for poker players.
In terms of withdrawals, Bitcoin withdrawals are free and quick with no fees involved – charges are incurred on BTC conversion to other currencies. This is particularly useful for North Carolina players since it can be difficult to find a site that services players from the US.
When it comes to online poker, Americas Cardroom’s most popular game is the ever-popular Texas hold’ em. One reason why players are drawn to the game is that they can play against players of varying skills.
There is also a Texas hold ’em no-limit variant for high rollers or those that want a bit more excitement. There are also multi-table tournaments with a $215 buy-in tournament available every Sunday.
How to Register On A Poker Site In NC
Registering at an online poker North Carolina site is easy to do; you simply have to bear the following points in mind:
- The first step is to ensure you meet the requirements. This means you have to meet the legal age to play online poker for real money in North Carolina. Depending on where the offshore site is registered, the legal age might be 18 or 21.
- Once this is done, you can then register for an account by entering the information below:
- Your name
- Phone number
- Account username
- Valid state ID
- After filling out the registration form online, you then click submit and wait for approval. Approval is typically instant; however, it could take up to three business days to hear back from an online poker site.
- If the online poker site has a bonus code, you can enter it at this point during the registration. The code activates your welcome bonus providing you with a match on your deposit.
- After registering and getting approval, you can now make a deposit. One of the great things about playing online poker is that you have a multitude of payment options to select from. You simply have to select your preferred option from the following:
- Credit or debit card
- Ewallet options such as Paypal, Skrill, or Neteller
- Bank deposit
How to Choose the Best NC Poker Sites
For us to determine the best NC poker sites, we looked at the criteria listed below:
Customer support is an important factor to consider when searching for the best online poker site for players in North Carolina. Players should be able to rely on customer service agents when they need an efficient and swift resolution to their issues. There should also be various ways for players to contact support agents.
The best online poker sites have a plethora of payment options for players to select from. This includes debit and credit cards, cryptocurrencies, and e-wallets. The availability of options enables players to use their preferred payment and withdrawal options. It also ensures that players aren’t waiting for an extended time to receive their withdrawals. The best online poker sites also do not charge exorbitant fees for cashouts and deposits.
The best online poker site you can find is one that has quality software. The software goes beyond the games you play and includes functionality, usability, and user experience.
Variety of Games
Every site highlighted in this article has a range of poker game variants to select from. Players can enjoy draw poker, seven-card stud, razz, Omaha, and the ever-popular Texas hold ’em. There should also be an impressive diversity in the number of cash games and tournaments open to players.
Betrocker is constantly searching for online poker sites that provide the most generous welcome bonuses. The site should also have a plethora of promotions available to both new and current players.
Security and Regulation
The Nonline poker site you select should always be one that has a valid gambling license from a reputable gambling authority. A valid license is a way to certify that the poker site has undergone stringent checks on its software to ensure they remain fair. It also means that players have a means of recourse should there be a problem.
Betrocket will never recommend an unreputable or unlicensed online poker site to you, so you can always be sure that the poker sites mentioned in this article are secure and safe.
For an online poker site to be on this list, it must also utilize advanced security measures such as high-end firewalls, DPOs, and SSL encryption.
Poker Game Variants You Can Find on NC Sites
Playing online poker for real money in North Carolina doesn’t mean you are stuck with just one type of poker game. On the sites listed in this article, you can play the ever-popular Texas hold ’em and other poker variants such as five-card draw, Chinese poker, seven-card stud, Omaha hi, Omaha hi-lo, HORSE,, and razz.
What’s even more interesting is that each NC online poker site has its own take on a couple of games. This helps to provide a unique gaming experience to every player. With so many choices, there shouldn’t be a problem finding the right game for you.
For new players that want the easiest games to ease into playing online poker, Texas hold ’em, Omaha hi, and short deck are a few games to try. These games don’t have a steep learning curve, so you can begin playing online poker straight away.
The five North Carolina online poker sites in this article all provide something special that just about any player can enjoy. The key is to find the one that best matches your preferences, such as payment options, rakebacks, bonuses, and promotions.