Are you a US citizen interested in online gambling? The legality of online gambling in the US is a tricky subject, but I am here to guide you through it. On this page, you can learn everything you need to know about gambling in the US and find some great US online casinos to check out.
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*Please note that the EU bonuses are listed above, but most of the casinos offer unique bonuses for American players.
Gambling is and has been a big part of the US’ history for a long time, but it is legally restricted. The first hazard games made their way to the US with the first settlers of the British-American colonies in the 1600s. Ever since, games of chance, lotteries, and eventually what we today know as casinos, casino games, and sports betting, have grown in popularity.
The nation’s casino capital – The Las Vegas Strip – is famous all over the world for being a city full of glamorous casinos lined up with slot machines and table games. Also, Atlantic City on the East Coast is known for its casinos, but casino establishments can actually be found all over the US. From the state of Alabama to Wyoming and everything in between, the United States is full of hotels, resorts, and other establishments that offer land-based casino games. So why is online gambling such a different case?
US online gambling laws have been in the works since the late 1990s and it is still a rather confusing topic covering lots of laws and cases. The first important thing to know is that while gambling now is legal under U.S. federal law, online gambling is regulated on a state basis. This means that some states allow for online gambling while others do not, and online gambling (casino games, etc) and sports betting is also separated as two different types of gambling. This also means that some states allow online gambling but not online sports betting and the other way around.
Two important years in the development of online gambling legality in the US are 2011 and 2018. In 2011, the Department of Justice issued a legal opinion that changed the way the federal government interprets the Wire Act of 1961 by stating that the act only applies to sports betting – not other forms of online gambling. With this decision, it became possible for states to legalize other forms of online gambling*. Then, in 2018, a 2018 Supreme Court decision struck down the federal prohibition of sports betting (PASPA) and allowed for states to legalize sports betting for their residents. Thanks to these two decisions and more, online gambling can technically be offered in all states if legalized and regulated in the state.
*In 2019, the Department of Justice went back on its decision and again interpreted the Wire Act as applying to all forms of gambling. Even though this sudden decision could have complicated things, it has not seemed to stop the many states now legalizing online sports betting, poker, and casino games across the US.
As the legality of online gambling is a state-specific matter, online gambling is legal in some states and illegal in others. Many states have passed laws but might not have any operators in operation yet. There are also some states that have legalized sports betting but not casino games and vice versa.
Overview of states where online casino games and/or poker currently is legal:
Overview of states where online sports betting currently is legal (laws are passed and sportsbooks are either already in operation or will be soon):
Although all states above have passed bills on online gambling or sports betting, this does not mean that it is currently possible to gamble online in all the states yet as it is not all live. Additionally, depending on the state, there might be different rules in place. This includes that online gambling is only available when on licensed (land-based premise) or through state-owned operators.
While it might seem like players from a lot of states currently can log in to an online gambling account and start betting, it is not that easy. Even for the states where laws are passed, the process is sometimes slow in getting it up and running. Therefore, the following states are normally the few that are most commonly mentioned when we talk about the legality of online betting in the US:
As online gambling and sports betting are far from legal in all US states, it means that there are still many US states where gambling is illegal. Again it depends a lot from one state to the next on what is legal and not, both when it comes to land-based and online gambling. For example in Hawaii and Utah, no form of gambling is legal. This again means that it is important to check and adhere to local laws.
With that said, living in a state where gambling is illegal does not mean that you can never gamble. You don’t have to be a resident of the state you are betting in, so you can visit retail sportsbooks and use online sports betting when you are physically located within state lines where it is legal, Additional, the acts of downloading mobile betting apps, signing up for accounts, making deposits and withdrawals can be completed from anywhere.
Knowing a bit more about the legality of online gambling, let’s take a closer look at online casinos for US players. Just because a state has legalized the act of playing casino games and poker online, it does not mean that residents of that state can sign up at any online casino available online.
Due to the difficult legislation and strict laws, many online casinos don’t accept players from the US. Therefore, US players will have to sign up at a casino that explicitly allows players from the United States to sign up. This information is normally stated in a casino’s terms and conditions. It is important to never sign up at a casino banning users from the US as ultimately, it can result in you losing your deposits and possible winnings.
Luckily, there are some online casinos out there that accept players from the United States. One of our current favorites is Unibet. This European casino is based in Malta and is fully safe to play at. The platform is an online casino and sportsbook combined, currently available in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In addition to the brands already available, brand-new online casinos accepting US players pop up all the time. Most of these casinos are established brands from Europe or land-based US casinos that are making their way online. But there are also brand new casinos opening up their virtual doors for US players to enjoy.
The legality of online gambling is a complex and confusing topic, but the direction it is moving in is clear. Ever since the 1990s, there have been discussions of legalizing online gambling and in recent years, it has finally started to happen. States are now allowed to regulate online gambling as they see fit, which has opened up a lot of online casinos and sportsbooks already. I believe that this trend will continue and that we will keep seeing more and more states opening up for online casino games, poker, and sports betting in the near future. In other words, you’ll have lots to look forward to as an American online casino player!
To complete this introductory guide to online gambling in the US, I will go through and recap some commonly asked questions on the topic.
Yes and no. In the US now, it is up to each state to regulate or prohibit online gambling (and online sports betting) within its borders. Therefore, some states allow for it while others don’t.
There are currently seven states that allow for online gambling/poker and more than 20 that allow for online sports betting. Though these bills have been passed (or are in process), it does not mean that all of these states currently offer residents to gamble freely online. The states that have come the longest are New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Mississippi.
Yes, if you are a resident or visiting any of the states where online gambling is legal (and you meet other requirements such as minimum age) you can gamble legally online.
iGaming is the act of gambling online, for example by playing traditional casino games such as slot machines and roulette via an online platform.