Playing poker or bridge at home with cash stakes would become legal under a bill approved this week by the Senate.

Though rarely enforced, it is a misdemeanor in Maryland for individuals to gamble, even in the privacy of their own homes. Sen. Nancy J. King, a Montgomery County Democrat and the bill's chief sponsor, called it a "common sense" bill that would allow family and friends to play games at home without fear of arrest or prosecution.

Under the bill passed unanimously on Thursday, wagering may not be done over the Internet, and game hosts may not receive any compensation beyond whatever they might win.