On European shores, online gambling has been a popular recreational activity for some time. However, in the United States, the legality of online gambling remains a grey area.
In this article we will explore whether online gambling is legal in the USA.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question and there is a lot of confusion and misinformation around.
The bottom line is – you can gamble online in the United States, but there are many caveats to be aware of.
Where Can American Players Gamble?
The following online casinos are excellent options for American players and promise to deliver a fantastic online gambling experience to anyone who steps through their virtual doors.
- Casino Extreme. Established in 2000, Casino Extreme is a longstanding player in the field which accepts American players. This is a Real Time Gaming casino with slots, video poker and table games for players to enjoy.
- 24VIP Casino. This is a relative newcomer to the block having entered the market in 2017 and has a particular focus on the U.S market. Players can choose from video poker, slots and table games
- One of the biggest names in American online gambling. Bovada offers an enviable selection of casino games, slots, poker and an outstanding sportsbook.
Can I Bet Online as an American Citizen?
The simple fact is that it is not patently illegal to place a bet online as a United States citizen. Any sensationalist headlines or stories proclaiming the illegality of online gambling on American shores is at best misleading and at worst, simply not true.
However, ensure that you deposit and wager at an online casino operating outside the US – it is illegal to place money at an online casino operating on American soil.
Also, the legality of online betting varies considerably among different states. It is certainly prudent to check the specific laws pertaining to the state you wish to bet in. (More on this later).
What is the Best Approach for Online Gambling?
The safest route to online gambling for Americans is through playing at an overseas online casino which accepts American players.
Legally speaking, this is the optimal method, allowing American players to circumvent any laws which apply at state and federal levels.
Realistically, if players employ this approach in a state which has permitted online gambling, they do not need to worry. In spite of the slightly grey area, it is extremely unlikely that players will face any prosecution in such circumstances.
How Can I Bet Online as an American Citizen?
Due to the ambiguous nature of online gambling in the U.S, using an American bank to deposit at an online casino, even if that deposit is going to an overseas outfit, may prove troublesome.
Therefore, we recommend players to open a bank account outside of the shores of America and use that account for all of their online gambling dealings.
Of course, this is likely to incur transaction fees, but this method is not likely to pose you with any unwanted problems and difficulties.
Another option is for players to use cryptocurrency to fund their online gambling. Cryptocurrency by its very nature doesn’t involve banks, making it perhaps the safest form of depositing for American players.
However, as we have alluded to, there is a lot of misunderstanding. So, let’s try to clear some of that up.
The Law in Different States
The first thing to be aware of is the fact that online gambling laws vary depending on where you are in America.
Federal law stipulates that online gambling is legal, but states are free to impose their own restrictions on certain activities within the borders of their state.
This includes gambling, meaning the federal position on online gambling does not necessarily apply. The legality of online gambling, or otherwise, is principally down to the individual state and its own laws.
States in which online gambling is not explicitly illegal, aka probably legal:
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
States which have passed online gambling bills:
- New Jersey
States, which have an online gambling bill:
- West Virginia
- New York
- New Hampshire
In all other states, online gambling and betting at online casinos is regarded as illegal.
Confusing Laws and Bills
So, where does all the confusion about the legality of US gambling and online casinos stem from? Well, certain bills have been the main culprits.
In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed and rather than clearing up the misunderstandings, it did quite the opposite.
The act stated that it was illegal for any person or entity to accept online transactions related to online gambling and casinos.
This act was devised and passed in mind of prohibiting banks and e-wallets from funding online gambling, rather than banning online gambling per se.
Ultimately, the UIGEA act did not explicitly state that online gambling is illegal for American citizens.
Furthermore, the Wire Act of 1961 has led to misunderstandings. This act was initially introduced to curb sports betting but in 2001, the Bush Administration declared it applied to all forms of online gambling.
However, this interpretation was questioned and in 2011, the U.S Department of Justice declared the act only applied to interstate sports betting. Hence even more confusion.
What Problems Might I Face?
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that American players won’t face some problems when trying to deposit and play at online casinos.
First and foremost, American players must ensure that they are betting from within a state which permits online gambling.
It goes without saying that if an American citizen attempts to bet from a state which prohibits online gambling, they are asking for trouble.
Even if online casinos indicate that they accept US players, Americans may still run into problems. Online outfits could be wary of accepting American players due to the vagueness of American online gambling law.
Also, as we have mentioned, it is certainly not unheard of for American banks to reject payments which are headed for online casinos, even if these establishments aren’t operating in the United States.
What is the Legal Age for Online Gambling in the U.S?
The age from which players can legally gamble online varies by state. In some states you can gamble from 18-years-old whereas others have stipulated that players must be 21-years-old.
However, players should also take note of the rules at the specific online casino they choose to play at. These rules will relate to the casino’s country of jurisdiction.
Online Sports Betting in the United States and the Future
In May 2018, the Supreme Court came to a landmark decision ruling to overturn the 1992 federal ban on sports betting. This paved the way for states to start to officially legalise sports betting.
This appears to be an indication of the direction gambling is proceeding in in the United States. We believe it is likely that over the coming years, all forms of online betting will grow.
The Bottom Line
We hope this article has cleared up some of the misconceptions with online gambling in America.
The bottom line is that in certain states, online gambling is not illegal and there are many online casinos out there which accept American players.
And, as gambling begins to grow in the United States, we can only assume that more online gambling opportunities will open up for Americans in the coming years.