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An estimated 60% of Americans don’t have any clear idea about the legality of online gambling in their state. Do you belong to this category? If the answer is yes, you should definitely check out this article.
With the US gambling industry in a total state of flux in 2019, it is important to keep an eye on the changes occurring in different states. Here we have a comprehensive overview of the state of online gambling in the United States, including both casino games as well as sports betting.
Contrary to popular assumption, online gambling is not explicitly illegal in the US, at least according to Federal Law. US citizens are free to gamble with their own money without fear of prosecution from the Feds.
However, companies involved in offering gambling services often have a hard time as there are severe restrictions on allowing the transfer of funds for gambling purposes. This was based on an interpretation of the Wire Act, which was struck down by the courts in 2011, only to be reinstated by the Justice Department recently. So the jury is still out on that one.
Sports-betting was banned at the Federal level by a law called PASPA in 1992, but that too was voided by a Supreme Court ruling in 2018. So basically in 2019, there are few hindrances (if any) against online gambling at the Federal level.
But at the state level, it is a whole different ball-game altogether. The entire US is covered by a patchwork of local laws, some of which are online gambling friendly while others are vague or downright hostile. Before we take a look at the different states, here is what online gambling broadly has to offer to you in the US:
Online casino games
Online sports betting
Nevada may be the gambling capital of the nation with its Las Vegas casinos, but New Jersey has stolen a march on it when it comes to online gambling. It is one of the few states where all three forms of online gambling are legal.
The first law on this was passed in 2012, making New Jersey the third state to legalize online gambling in the US. And then in 2018, sports betting was added to the list which already had poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, and other casino games as legal in the state.
Players have to be 21 years or older to be eligible, but you don’t have to be a New Jersey resident. It is mandatory that you are physically within the state borders when you gamble online at New Jersey gambling sites.
All Atlantic City Casinos have online betting sites in New Jersey these days. The total number of legal online gambling in the state currently sits at around 16, with 13 online sportsbooks being added by 2019.
The status of online gambling in Pennsylvania is similar to that of New Jersey. As of 2019, all forms of online gambling, including sports betting and casinos, are legal in the state. The state is already home to a dozen land-based casinos.
But online sites are still only entering the launch phase in Pennsylvania as of early 2019. By 2020, we will get a clearer idea about the number of sportsbooks and online casinos in the state.
Online poker was also completely legalized by the state recently. At least eight online poker sites could also open in the state within the next year. But the application process is still ongoing.
The state had a sports betting law in place by 2018 and began offering bets by August that year. The five casinos in the state have partnered with companies like BetLucky and DraftKings to offer online sportsbooks in the near future.
West Virginia also legalized all other forms of online gambling like poker and casino games in 2019. The five casinos in the state could launch their poker rooms and online apps in the near future. The earliest we can expect developments is by 2020.
Though it is the offline gambling capital of the US, the state of Nevada does not have a very friendly attitude to online gambling. The only form of casino gambling available online legally in the state is a single poker site, called WSOP NV. There are no other online casinos.
As for sports betting, again, the state is heavily biased towards its central industry which is all about offline betting. There are no standalone online sportsbooks in Nevada. Instead, all the casinos are allowed to launch their own sports betting apps, which currently sit at around 12.
Delaware became one of the first states in the country to legalize online casinos in 2012. As of now, the three offline casinos in the state have a license to operate online versions.
The casinos are Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway, and they offer casino games like roulette, video poker, and slots. The state’s online gambling market is very small.
There is also a legal online poker site, operated by 888, but the player pool is quite small. Delaware does not have any online sportsbooks at the moment, though that could change in the future.
There are several states in the US where they have not explicitly mentioned online gambling as an offense for participating players. In some of these states, businesses operating the service may be prosecuted, but players are (almost) certainly safe.
The law books in the state are very ambiguous on the topic of online gambling. Individuals or companies are forbidden from operating gambling services in the state though.
California is among the list of states that could legalize sports betting in the near future. As far as online gambling is concerned, there is no mention of it being an illegal activity for players.
Only operators are explicitly banned from conducting gambling businesses in the state. There is no specific penalty against players.
Illegal gambling is a crime in the state, but online gambling is not explicitly mentioned, nor are there any penalties. If you are an online gambler in Maine, you are probably safe.
Placing a bet is a misdemeanor in Minnesota, but there is no mention of any penalties. The state laws also do not have any mention of online gambling activities.
The state has very strict laws against online gambling operators, but the same do not apply to players who place bets. The state is also in the process of trying to legalize sports betting and other forms of online gambling.
Similar to New York, there are stiff penalties against illegal operators, but none against players.
These are the states where the statutes explicitly mention participating in online gambling as a criminal offense. In these states, players who are caught gambling online might get anything from a misdemeanor notice to fines, or even some jail time!
So if you reside in any of the following states, you might want to think twice before signing up at an online casino:
The language of the law and its application does vary from state to state. For instance, enforcement would be really strict in states like Utah and Hawaii, where they have extreme opposition towards all forms of gambling.
In many states, online gambling is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable with stiff fines and a few months of jail time. These include states like Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas, Michigan, and Mississippi. In states like Iowa, depending on the cash wagered, the charge can be escalated from misdemeanor to felony.
Regardless of the severity of the punishment prescribed in the law books, enforcement remains quite lax in most of these states. The law enforcement agencies are more focused on catching the businesses and operators rather than the ordinary citizens who wager cash online.
Ever since the Supreme Court ruling on sports betting in the US, many states have created laws legalizing offline sportsbooks. Several states have plans to introduce mobile apps and online platforms, in some cases in a very highly restricted form. Many of these proposals are still being considered by the lawmakers in these states. The list includes: