US Online Casinos
Thousands of Americans play at online casinos everyday right from their living room. US online gambling laws are difficult to pinpoint, however, because the internet is still new and unregulated. These laws also tend to vary quite a bit from state to state. Below we aim to provide information on a state by state basis for your convenience. We explain the local laws as well as give industry-leading recommendations about the best, most trustworthy online casinos available to US players.
Is Internet Gambling Legal in the US?
Many people in America are confused as to whether or not it is legal to gamble online in the US. It turns out that federal law does not specifically address this question. Instead, the US Department of Justice chose to interpret the 1961 Federal Wire Act, which prohibits betting on sports via telegraph, as applying also to gambling online. The UIGEA was then passed in Congress in 2006 to enforce this interpretation of the law by blocking banking institutions from processing gambling payments.
However, the DOJ reversed their position not long thereafter, declaring that the Wire Act did not apply to all online betting — only sports betting. Since then, it has been left to state governments to decide what their laws are regarding online gambling. Already, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have legalized different forms of betting online on an intrastate level. See below for more detailed information on each state.
State-by-State Online Casino Gambling Information
The American gambling industry is fairly large, but the regulations are often state-specific and ambiguous. Many US-based real money gaming enthusiasts have access to commercial and tribal casinos, horse racing tracks, and state-run lotteries. The available games often include poker, bingo, slots, table games, and more. In many cases, the local laws focus on protecting these gambling businesses and focus on punishing illegal gambling operators instead of individual players.
United States Online Gambling Laws
As you’ve probably already guessed, federal regulations pertaining to online gambling apply exclusively to real money gaming operators and financial institutions. Neither the Federal Wire Act nor the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act prevents US citizens from joining the action on offshore gambling sites.
However, it is worth pointing out that the US Department of Justice used to believe that the Wire Act prohibited financial institutions from processing any US gambling-related transactions. Consequently, many e-wallet companies were forced to leave the American gambling market and still refuse to cooperate with offshore sites despite the fact that the DoJ changed its mind and stated that this restriction applies to sports betting sites only.
This also the reason why credit card gambling deposits aren’t 100% reliable in the United States even though they work every time in Europe – some credit card companies simply decided to block gambling-related transactions after the DOJ crackdown on iGaming and haven’t adjusted this policy to the current legal situation.
When it comes to state regulations, most states simply haven’t bothered with introducing new laws that would apply specifically to online gambling. In states of this kind, online gambling is generally considered to be perfectly legal even though theoretically speaking it would be possible for the authorities to argue that it violates the anti-gambling regulations designed with live gambling in mind.
Nevertheless, no players have been prosecuted so far. The only exceptions to this rule are the states that have already legalized online gambling, such as Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, as well as states that have criminalized online gambling, such as Washington.
Legal US Online Casinos
Most of the US residents are free to play at offshore casino sites. The traffic on those sites is significantly higher than in the case of regulated sites that operate on intrastate markets in Nevada or New Jersey. It’s worth pointing out that even the Americans that have the access to US-licensed sites often prefer to play at offshore sites due to the fact that they tend to offer better bonuses and higher jackpots.
Offshore Casino Sites That Accept US-Based Players
Many US-facing offshore casinos accept players from all over the country, allowing them to play amazing games from companies like Real Time Gaming or Betsoft. Unfortunately, US-based casino enthusiasts won’t be able to join casinos powered by software developed by Playtech and several other companies due to the fact that they prefer to avoid the controversial issue of cooperating with sites that accept US players without being licensed in the United States.
Depositing Money and Withdrawing Gambling Winnings in the US
The most popular method of making a deposit to one of the offshore casino sites is to use a credit or debit card. As mentioned above, this method isn’t 100% reliable. However, even if your transaction is blocked, you won’t lose any money or face any legal consequences.
According to player reports, Visa has the highest success rate, MasterCard is fairly acceptable, American Express isn’t all that likely to work, and Discover isn’t even supported by most sites.
The only real alternative to a credit card deposit is to make a Western Union or MoneyGram payment, but keep in mind that this option isn’t available with most sites. Furthermore, using this method usually requires you to cover a small transaction fee.
Withdrawals are almost always handled via a bank wire transfer, but some players might be allowed to cash out via a check by courier. Furthermore, customers who made a Western Union/MoneyGram deposit are frequently allowed to withdraw using this method.
Developing Legal Scenarios
States that don’t have strong anti-gambling traditions, such as California, are expected to introduce new gambling-friendly regulations similar to the ones that are already in place in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada. Furthermore, many experts predict that iGaming-friendly states are going to join their forces and allow for shared player pools, which would allow their local online gambling businesses to compete against offshore sites in terms of overall traffic. Nevertheless, offshore casinos are still expected to be the dominant force on the US gambling market, as even five or six states wouldn’t be able to attract more players than major international iGaming networks.