Is Online Gambling Illegal or Legal In the US?

Can you gamble online? This is a very popular question on the mouths of gamblers in the United States. Online gambling is one hell of an issue US laws have failed to completely clarify. Many US citizens are still in the dark as to whether online gambling is Legal or illegal in their states. It would seem that a lacuna exists in the federal law as regards online gambling. However, players should be reassured that US federal law does not prohibit online gambling. State laws however may defer. If you are a gambler, it would be most appropriate and wise to research your state laws to see if there is a prohibition against it.

Salient Facts to know about Online Gambling
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  • There is no federal law which bars online gambling activities

  • Some states have laws that prohibit gambling generally

  • A few states have “legalized” it

  • Violation of state laws against gambling are often just misdemeanors

Is Gambling Illegal?

You might have asked yourself, is gambling illegal? The federal law of the United States does not explicitly state that gambling, whether online or physical is Illegal. This makes it somewhat legal because it is not conclusive. It is possible to be found wanting before state laws, but prosecution is almost non-existent or very minimal. While you probably wouldn’t be breaking any Federal laws by placing bets online, it is illegal to run a gambling operation, except in states that have clearly legalized gambling. Not many states have specific laws against online gambling, however, many do have general laws against gambling, whether offline or online. In some jurisdictions, only some accepted forms of gambling are legal, Poker for example.

States that have Legalized Online Gambling to a Reasonable Extent

Delaware

Delaware was the first state to make online gambling legal in the year 2012. Regulated online gambling is tolerated in Delaware. It is not conclusive, but it seems possible to play at unregulated sites. However, it is not legal to be in possession of, or own a “gambling device”. Gamblers in this state should research the laws to have a clear understanding of the law.

Nevada

It is legal to play online poker here. Only state legal gambling sites are authorized.  Moreover, operators are state-licensed but the Poker rooms coming together to gain $1,000,000 in revenue on one occasion makes it not so popular.

New Jersey

It became the third state to allow legal online gambling in 2013. It has legal online casinos that are covered by the Licensing and Regulation of the state. However, gambling not authorized by the state is unlawful. Gambling-related crimes spelt out in the New Jersey code targets operators rather than players.

Kentucky

Kentucky law does not condone advancing gambling activity which mostly applies to operators, not players. There is no law stating any form of penalty for online gambling.

Maine

There is no particular law applicable to online gambling, however, “unlawful” gambling is illegal in the state.

New York

The state’s antigambling law references online operators, not players. Legislators are pushing for new laws to make it legal.

Pennsylvania

The laws prohibit unauthorized gambling. The penalty appears to be applicable to operators only.

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States that Explicitly Outlaw Online Gambling for US Players

Certain states forbid online gambling for US players, they include:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Foreign Based Online Casinos

Most American gamblers are able to sign up on offshore gambling casino sites that do not have any presence whatsoever in the US. There are no specific laws which make this illegal, however, the law has made it criminal for banking institutions to engage in monetary transactions with customers holding accounts with such players from these sites. This made those gambling sites look for other alternatives asides credit and debit cards. They now enable their US customers to deposit and withdraw their money using cryptocurrencies or using money transfer agencies like Money Gram and Western Union. Most land casinos in the United States are opting to offer online casino games to their customers which would make the number of offshore casinos offering services to US customers drop. These offshore sites offer games like slot, poker, Baccarat, and others.

Legal Online Casino Games in the US

Slot machines are among the common legal online casino games, both online and offline in the US. They also earn the biggest chunk of the gaming income too. Blackjack and Baccarat have a huge following in the US. Baccarat is a high-stake casino game. It is very simple and does not require any skill to play. Video poker machines are popular for their reasonable payout percentage and RTPs. You can also find Roulette and craps. Online US licensed and authorized Casinos are made to have systems in place that can assist gamblers.

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Online Gambling Laws in the United States

Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)

This was enacted in 2006 and affected US players accessing online gambling sites. Before this Act, foreign offshore gambling sites gave United States users unrestricted access to their sites, however, most major gambling companies have restricted access to United States users. UIGEA makes it technically illegal for US users to access these sites, however, US gamblers still have access to some of these gambling sites. Operators are much more at a risk of getting punished. Since offshore operations are not regulated, US players are at a high risk of getting scammed, so players need to be on high alert. UIGEA made it illegal for banking institutions to receive and pay proceeds from gambling. Credit card industries were exiting the industry due to high chargebacks and questions relating to its legality. Currently, the only way to make a transaction with offshore gambling businesses is via MoneyGram, Western Union and others. A huge chunk of these transactions come from sports betting and popular games like poker and slots.

However, the UIGEA did not totally ban online gambling. Each state as its own gambling laws, so what is legal in a state might be illegal in another. Technology Advancement has made it possible for operators to electronically verify the age and location of players.

Is Taking Bets Illegal?

Well, once you are within US territory, in most states, it is illegal to set up a website and accept bets from the public, except duly authorized and regulated operators. The Act that prohibits this is called the Wire Act. The federal government claimed the Act affected taking Casino and poker bets.  However, they reversed their stance and claimed it applied to only sports betting. Again, they went back to their earlier position. As stated earlier, if you are an online gambler, you would most probably not have any problems gambling online in, however, you are at a risk of getting punished if you act as an operator. Most sports betting operators are based outside the United States.

Should I Proceed to Gamble Online?

Well, because of the inconclusiveness of US online gambling laws, it is advisable to research on such laws to be sure you are on the right side of the law. There are hundreds of online Casinos (foreign) that still offer real money online Casino games to US players, especially sports betting sites. Slots and Poker online game sites are on the rise too. Surprisingly, they seem to be growing rapidly. Online Casinos from Curacao, offering services to US customers, abide by their own local laws and laws of International Organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO) where they recognize online gambling as a normal service which should be sold internationally. The US government frowns at it, but it is somewhat not illegal for a US resident to play on a site somewhere else. We strongly advise against playing with these offshore providers. Some US states are realizing they could get massive revenue from it, so they try to set up licensed and authorized casino networks.

How Do I Get Legit Online Casinos?

Since foreign Casinos are not US regulated, it could be difficult to identify real Casinos from fraudsters. At casino comparison page, we recommend the most reliable legal gambling sites and casinos for your enjoyment and benefit. Our recommended gambling sites have perfect safety records over many years. We also link you up with legal online US casinos and sports betting sites to play in, where monetary transaction is safe and guaranteed. These sites are just perfect for you as a US resident. Sign Up to access all this information, we also give tips and guidance to help you choose the best casinos, especially for new players.

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Conclusion:
To Gamble or Not to Gamble Online?

Is online gambling illegal or legal in the US? This question would be answered by your state laws. Online gambling is still a grey area because most laws don’t specifically refer to online gambling. So, the next time you want to gamble, be discreet about it and make sure your state law does not prohibit it. You can still gamble online on foreign offshore companies, but you must be on the lookout to ensure it’s a safe and secure site to play on.
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