US Online Gambling Laws – What States Permit Me To Play Legalized Online Games?

Are you looking for a licensed online casino in the US? Since the US hasn’t regulated online gambling at the federal level, you don’t have much of a choice. You have to either play at an offshore online casino or at an online casino licensed in a US state that has legalized and regulated online gambling.

National Indian Gaming Commission
  • The US has no federal-level laws that ban online gambling.
  • Each US state has different online gambling laws.
  • A few US states have legalized online gambling and offer licensed online casinos to their residents. However, you need to be physically present in the state to legally play at these casinos as they do not accept players living in other US states.
  • You can also play at offshore online casinos that accept US players.

Latest US Online Gambling Facts & Figures

  • Only 3% of US players gamble online.
  • US online gambling generated gross revenues of $306.5 million in 2018.
  • A Gallup Poll of 2016 shows that 64% of US residents gambled during the previous year.
  • 85% of US residents claim to have gambled at least once in their lives.
  • 1% of the US population are problem gamblers and an additional 2 – 3% experience some form of gambling harm.

Legal Online Gambling in US States

US states and territories have created different online gambling laws. While Hawaii and Utah have imposed a blanket ban on all forms of gambling, some states have legalized online gambling and others are in the process of doing so.

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware have legalized online sports betting, online casinos, and poker sites. If you visit New Jersey, you will find dozens of licensed online casinos and poker sites. Nevada has chosen to be a poker-only state, but Delaware offers licensed online sportsbooks, online casinos, and online poker rooms.

West Virginia has legalized online sports betting and online casinos and plans to launch online poker rooms in 2021. Indiana, New Hampshire, Iowa, Rhode Island, Colorado, Oregon, Montana, Illinois, and Washington DC have legalized online sports betting.

You can play at licensed online casinos if you live in New Jersey or Delaware. However, if you reside in a state that has not launched legal online casinos, your only option is to sign up at any of the offshore online casinos that accept US players. Note that licensed offshore online casinos do not accept players from US states that have either banned online gambling or legalized it.

Rest assured that, so far, no US law-enforcement agency has penalized players for gambling at offshore online gambling sites. However, the DoJ has fiercely dealt with companies running online gambling businesses in the US without a license.

US Online Gambling – Brief History of the Legality of Playing Online in the US

The world’s first online casinos went live in the early nineties. Although licensed and registered in the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Malta, and other jurisdictions, they accepted US players.

Despite the popularity of gambling online in the US, the Department of Justice (DoJ) declared in 2002 that offering and advertising online gambling services and products is illegal in the US. This, however, did not stop US residents from playing at any offshore online casino that accepted their registrations. On their part, offshore online casinos devised creative ways to dodge the laws and enable US players to deposit and play.

When the DoJ interpreted the Wire Act as applicable only to sports betting in December 2011, a few US states grabbed the opportunity to legalize online gambling in their jurisdictions. Delaware became the first US state to legalize online sportsbooks, casinos, and poker rooms in 2012. The following year, Nevada legalized online poker. Then New Jersey started granting online casino licenses to its Atlantic City casinos. In 2017, Pennsylvania because the fourth US state to legalize online casinos and online poker rooms.

But the DoJ changed its stance in 2019 and released a new interpretation of the Wire Act. According to this interpretation, all forms of online gambling become illegal. While the DoJ’s 2011 interpretation of the Wire Act allowed US states to legalize online gambling, its interpretation of 2019 throws many obstacles in the way of states planning to legalize online gambling.

Let us look at one such obstacle. The Wire Act of 1961 makes it illegal for anyone to transmit bets or information that helps in placing bets between states and/or to foreign countries. The data that residents of a state transmit via the Internet to the servers of an online casino in that state can be routed outside the state’s borders. The Wire Act would apply to such a transmission according to the DoJ’s 2019 interpretation, making it difficult for states to launch online casinos.

The only consolation is that the DoJ’s interpretation is just an opinion that has a major impact on the US online gambling industry; it is not the law.

Important Federal Gambling Laws in the US

The US has no federal-level laws that ban online gambling. At the same time, the country also lacks a regulatory framework, which would enable it to license online casinos.

Many US players have misinterpreted the following laws and concluded that they ban online gambling, which is just not true.

Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) – The UIGEA, which was passed into law on Oct 13, 2006, does not criminalize online gambling. Instead, it makes it illegal for banks, payment processing companies, financial institutions, and credit card companies to process online gambling-related transactions.

Wire Act of 1961 – Enacted in 1961 as one of several anti-racketeering laws, this law is complementary to many other federal-level sports betting laws.

This law makes it illegal to transmit sports bets or information related to placing sports bets via the Internet. There are two exceptions to the rule. First, using the Internet to report sports news is legal. Second, information that helps in placing bets on sports events held in countries or states that have legalized sports betting can be legally transmitted over the Internet.

The Wire Act applies only to sports betting, not to any other form of gambling. But its language has been interpreted differently at different times, as explained above, leading to chaos in the US online gambling industry.

Gambling Responsibly in the US

Licensed online casinos help players to gamble responsibly. They direct problem gamblers to non-profit support groups and offer player protection tools such as self-exclusion, cool-off periods, setting limits, and others to help players control their casino spending.

The National Problem Gambling Helpline Network

Support for problem gamblers and treatment for gambling addiction is available all over the US. The following is a list of support organizations:

Gamblers Anonymous: Based in Los Angeles, Gamblers Anonymous has a global presence. If you want help to combat a potential gambling addiction, you can get involved with the local Gamblers Anonymous group and go through their 12-step program to recovery.

National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPGambling): This organization conducts programs for problem gamblers. You can contact them and get help from one of their counsellors through their helpline 1-800-522-4700.


Also, you can contact the following:

  • California Council on Problem Gambling
  • Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling
  • Nevada Council on Problem Gambling
  • Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling
  • NJ Council on Compulsive Gambling
  • Delaware Council on Gambling Problems

US Online Gambling FAQs

Which software providers operate in the US market?

Well-known international game providers such as Playtech, NetEnt, and Microgaming stay away from the US market because of its gambling laws. US players, therefore, don’t have a wide range of online casino games to play as US-facing online casinos offer only games from Real Time Gaming (RTG0, TopGame, WGS Technology, and Rival Gaming.

How do I make deposits and withdrawals at an online casino that accepts US players?

You can use Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and Amex credit and debit cards, Money Gram, Western Union, and Bitcoin. 

Are US players eligible to claim casino bonuses?

Yes. You can get started with the online casino’s welcome bonus. US-friendly online casinos offer a variety of reload bonuses, loyalty bonuses, free spins, cashback bonuses, and others.

Do I have to pay taxes on my gambling winnings?

A: Yes. Gambling winnings are taxable in the US. While offshore online casino do not report player winnings to the US tax authorities, online casinos licensed in states such as Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey, and Nevada are required by law to report slots and video poker winnings exceeding $1200.

Licensed casinos report table game winnings only if they exceed $600 or 300 times your bet amount.

Irrespective of whether an online casino reports your winnings or not, it is your responsibility to pay taxes on your gambling profits. This holds even if you are gambling at an offshore casino.

What is the legal age for gambling in the US?

It depends on the state in which you live. It is 18+ in some states and 21+ in others. US-facing online casinos accept registrations from US players only if they are at least 21 years old.