“Go west young man!”
That’s what so many people have told me to do with the Atlanta Poker Club. Venture westward, towards Alabama and start APC bar poker there.
“Start up an APC franchise in the next state over and build what you have here in Georgia over in Alabama!”
It sounded reasonable to me.
So I started looking into Alabama poker laws, rules and regulations. I had a ton of questions and needed to do research. When you operate an entertainment business that offers poker in Georgia, where gambling is illegal, you have to do your research to make sure you are doing things properly, legally and profitably.
I need to do the same due diligence before even considering investing in developing a new area.
Is it legal to play poker in Alabama?
Could the “APC” be brought to towns and cities in Alabama? Is live poker legal? Is online poker legal? Is there a way to make our style of bar poker league work that is legal? Would we need to change how we play poker in any way in order to be legal in Alabama. Bring APC style bar poker to Alabama.
Now let me first say this with importance that I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I am just a guy investigating and sharing information I uncover when searching for the illegal vs legal poker in Alabama. I share links to things that I find around the internet for you to research more yourself – which you should do!
So – is live poker even legal in Alabama? (yikes – kinda not)
My short answer: sometimes.
- Live poker in Alabama – No. There are no legal casinos or poker rooms of any sort. It is illegal to operate a poker room and charge a rake of any kind.
- Live poker in private – This is legal as long as the house is not charging a rake of any kind or making a profit off the game in any way outside of being one of the players in the game. This appears to be legal.
- Live free poker – It appears that as long as there is no thing of value being played for or required to enter then this is legal. However it is very much a gray area as far as I am concerned.
- Online Poker – Yes – but only at certain sites.
We also have to understand what Alabama defines as gambling in the first place. Here are the definitions of gambling – according to Alabama legislature.
From the looks of that link, we have a few things to be cautious about. Namely not ‘advancing gambling activity’ – which applies to people who promote or put on the games and their actual definition of gambling that more or less says if there is any element of luck, notwithstanding the skill of the players, that it is considered gambling.
It does look like as long as it is free for the players to play in the tournament then they are not gambling. This might work, but we need to look a little deeper at poker in Alabama, and if it makes sense for us to venture that way.
Is Online Poker Allowed in Alabama? Yes – But Only Certain Sites
You are free to play online poker at many of the longest running and well established poker sites on the market.
However there are also sites where you are forbidden to play even if you are of age.
Yes – You can play online poker at:
As a player in these games you have nothing to worry about, other than avoiding the two outers.
I go over each of these these four sites with a few key points if you are not sure which one is best suited for you. There are some key differences you will want to know about before joining a particular site.
Which Online Poker Sites Are Illegal?
You can not play on:
Or any other state regulated poker site. Alabama is just like Georgia in that online poker is not regulated and therefore not allowed from the operator side of the business.
Alabama does not allow you to open your own online poker site and charge any rake of any kind.
I will go into the in’s and outs of the online poker room choices Alabama has below on this page. But for now, let’s look closer at the live poker options and if the Atlanta Poker Club style of live bar poker could work in some of the towns and cities in Alabama.
Alabama – Live Poker Options – Casinos & Card Rooms
Alabama Casinos – what are the casino options in Alabama? Really there are none. At least none that offer poker. They have three “casinos” in Alabama. They are all three owned and operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. These offer electronic bingo games that look like slots. They do not offer table games, including poker. There is no Texas Holdem or Omaha offered at these casinos. If you are looking for an online casino, consider Bovada, Betonline or Ignition (the casino at ACR is weak) for every type of casino game you could want.
Alabama Live Card Rooms – are there any card rooms where you can play poker for money in a legal environment? No – there are not any poker rooms what so ever at any city or town in Alabama. There is a greyhound track in Pensacola, FL that has poker tables and you can venture west into Mississippi to Biloxi, Tunica, and Philadelphia for regulated live casino poker.
Charity Poker Rooms – Nothing to speak of here. It appears explicitly illegal even for charity. In 2005 there was a charity poker arrest and no rooms that have tried to operate like the cardrooms in Texas or the short lived ones in Buford Ga. It is really firmly against operating any kind of poker venture that takes a rake or anything similar.
Bar League Poker – APC in Alabama? (does not look like it)
There does not seem to be an organized and active poker league in Alabama hosting games at bars and restaurants.
Maybe that is opportunity for us if we want to go west? Why are there no real advertised leagues to speak of. Either these leagues are terrible at being found or they are actively remaining quiet and private.
I have been able to find individual bars hosting their own poker nights fairly easily. Just google what city or town you are in and bar poker and you can find some. I found a bar called Cowboys in Dothan, AL that has a poker night on their regular weekly schedule. There is a regular game at a bar called the Office in Foley.
I can’t find an operating league that is similar to ours where games are spread out across multiple venues and points are tracked and tallied over the course of time. I found some no longer active (or ever active) poker groups that were in Alabama, like the NL Poker Club last active in 2018.
I found some of poker groups and clubs that used to run in the past but have shut down years ago. And I found a reddit post asking the same question for Birmingham bar poker league in 2022 and got no recommendations.
Charity Poker Games
In Alabama, there are no legal charity poker games. The closest thing I can find to a charity is a charity poker run held at Lions Lake on July 15th. It’s a poker run filled with boating, family and fun while raising money for Lake Martin. You pay an entry fee and collect cards. The highest hands and worst hands at the end of the day win $$. It’s not poker at all, but it is called a poker run.
AL State Laws, Regulations, Codes and Links
- Alabama Gambling and Lotteries
- “Gambling” search in the Code of Alabama
- Definitions of Gambling and Gambling related terms
- Alabama’s Gambling Laws are Stupid – a 2022 political piece
- Committee Approves Senate Bill 294 Alabama Betting and Casino Bill in 2022 but it is ‘dead’ in the water.
- Alabama’s current ‘state of play’ regarding casino gaming.
Alabama Poker Online
As I mentioned earlier, you can play online on certain sites and certain sites only. You are not allowed on the state regulated sites like Caesars, MGM, PartyPoker, PokerStars and the like. Thank your state government for this freedom.
Here are your options for playing online right now.
Bovada Poker – this is my personal favorite online poker site. It utilizes anonymous seating and play. When you join a table the other players have no idea if you are a shark or if this is the first time you’ve been dealt two cards in your life. This means that there is no poker tracking software data mining your play from past sessions and applying it to you now. You are a fresh seat “seat x” and that is it. You can read my comprehensive Bovada poker review to see why I like the idea behind how Bovada does things.
Here are some key points about Bovada
- 100% poker bonus
- Anonymous poker (no software tracking you)
- Largest player pools in the USA (shares network with Ignition Poker, a sister site)
- Accepts credit cards, cash transfer, bitcoin and a few other deposit methods
- Jackpot Sit-N-Go’s
- Official url: https://bovada.lv
Ignition Poker – Ignition poker is the sister site to Bovada and shares the same player pool, tournaments and cash games. The main difference with Ignition is that is a bit more poker centric and offers poker players a larger bonus offer as well as a few more on-going perks like free-rolls. You are anonymous just like on Bovada.
- 150% poker bonus if using crypto to deposit (advertised as a 300% bonus for casino and poker combined)
- Mobile friendly – play poker from your phone. Cash and tourneys.
- Credit cards, crypto and cash transfers all work at Ignition
- $2500 Weekly Freeroll
- Official url: https://ignitioncasino.eu
Americas Cardroom – One of the biggest tournament sites available to US players online. If you are a tournament player and want to play in the large field mega events then you will want an account at ACR. The Atlanta Poker Club hosts a weekly league tournament on ACR and has been doing so for over 10 years now (since 2011). You will have your own name at the table and it is non-anonymous online poker.
- 100% bonus up to $2000
- Alabama players accepted
- Second largest poker network for US players
- Biggest tournament series online
- Official url: https://americascardroom.eu
Betonline Poker – This site is a top choice if you are looking to use a credit card for deposits and the ones above have failed you. They excel at credit card processing and utilize a different set up solutions to accept Visa and Mastercard far and wide. Since Betonline is mostly known as a top online sportsbook, the players that cross over into the poker tables are usually on the more recreational side. Of course that does attract some sharks but such is the way of online poker today. It is non-anonymous poker games online and there is a decent selection of both cash games and smaller tournaments.
- 100% poker deposit bonus
- Integrated sportsbook and casino
- Very good credit card acceptance rates
- Non-anonymous poker – you will have a username at the tables
- Official url: https://betonline.ag
APC Poker In Alabama – Final Thoughts
To be honest, it feels too risky for me to venture into Alabama right now with the Atlanta Poker Club. While I am sure the players there would enjoy our brand of poker and the competitiveness of our league, I can not justify the expense to move westward. The poker laws are a bit too restrictive for my taste and the geographic challenges of starting and managing a new area are not worth the risk.