Home poker games have been under a lot of heat from law enforcement over the last few years. As the popularity of poker has grown the amount of people playing at home has also increased. Some of these games have gotten enough attention that the local and federal agencies have actually done raids.
When gaming laws were first written, they were intended to prevent people from hosting games in which they would profit from the play. Poker was never the focus of these laws and it they were never intended to prevent home games. With poker being so popular in American culture today, it is very unlikely that any one person would be punished too much for having a home game. The recent pressure is on games that are being "hosted" with the intent on profiting from the game itself without playing. These games usually involve high stakes and less than reputable clients.
The fear of this type of prosecution is where do you draw the line? Laws vary from state to state on the "acceptable" limits of home games. There is a lot of discretion that is up to the law enforcement agencies. When groups of friends get together to play cards it usually will not draw any attention, and it should not. The question is can the law use the card game as a "gateway" to enter the house which may be under suspicion for something else? The simple answer is yes.
There are also tax implications which can become issues as well. If the game is played with high enough stakes then the I.R.S. may have an interest in what goes on. After all casinos are required to report many cash transactions that a home game would not. In cases where the I.R.S. were to get involved the property of the game could be seized legally. All items including poker tables, cash, poker chip sets [http://www.premiumcasinosupply.com], and any other property they deem necessary.
Security and cheating are also things that are regulated at a casino. There is very little chance of getting cheated these days playing in a licensed casino. This is not the case for home games. Getting robbed is also less likely at a casino unlike a random house.
My thoughts are very straight forward on this manner. If you choose to play a low limit game with people you know who live above board lives you should have no problem. On the other hand if you are doing something dishonest then these laws could affect you. Playing a poker game for money outside a licensed card room is illegal and you should act accordingly.