Is Online Gambling Legal?

Online gambling is legal in the US. There are no federal laws that prohibit players from placing bets online. However, players must not make bets on online casinos based in the US. Some state laws may take a stance against online gambling but players are likely to avoid prosecution.


Online Gambling In The US

Is Online gambling legal

New Jersey Online Gambling

New Jersey leads the way for online gambling in the US.

It became legal to gamble online in New Jersey in 2013. This meant that Atlantic City casinos could apply for an online gambling permit, allowing players to access online casino and poker games.

New Jersey has the most online casinos than any other state in the country. There are hundreds of games to choose from, including online blackjack, roulette, video poker, online slots, baccarat and many more.

Several New Jersey online casinos also have live dealer games meaning that players can interact with a real dealer from their computer or mobile device. Live dealers can create a much more engaging environment for players, leading to more money gambled at the tables.

Delaware Online Gambling

While New Jersey is considered the home of legal online gambling in the US, it was Delaware that first legalized it back in 2012. Markets opened in November 2013 with the three racinos (namely Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway and Dover Downs) allowing players to gamble online on racing and games such as blackjack, roulette, and video poker.

Nevada Online Gambling

Considering that Nevada is home to one of the most famous gambling cities in the world, the amount of legal online gambling here is limited to say the least.

The only active online gambling site is WSOP NV, so if you aren’t a fan of poker, you won’t be able to find sites that offer traditional casino games.

If you do enjoy playing online poker, WSOP pools players from New Jersey and Delaware to create bigger fields and offer bigger prize pools. In fact, the WSOP now includes online tournaments during the official World Series of Poker, giving players the chance to win a bracelet on the site.

Pennsylvania Online Gambling

Pennsylvania recently legalized online gambling in 2017 with some sites such as Sugarhouse Online Casino opening in July 2019. While the number of active sites is small right now, it’s only a matter of time until more open for business, giving players a wide range of online gambling opportunities.

West Virginia Online Gambling

West Virginia legalized online gambling in March 2019, becoming the fifth US state to do so. The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act allowed the following casinos to develop casino and poker apps: The Casino Club at Greenbrier Resort, Mardi Gras Casino, The Mountaineer Hotel, Casino, and Resort, Hollywood Casino Charles Town and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack.

It could be a while until these properties release an online site as online gambling regulations are not expected to be finalized until 2020 at the earliest.


Legal US Online Sports Betting

Is Online gambling legal

In May 2018, the US Supreme Court rules that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was unconstitutional. This means that any state in the US could offer sports betting opportunities.

To date, eight states have either legalized sports betting or are in the process of doing so.

In terms of online sports betting, five of the eight states currently allow players to take part or are doing what they can to offer it. These states are New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Mississippi.

New Jersey Online Sports Betting

New Jersey has the most options for online sports betting. Of all the states pushing for the repeal of the PASPA, New Jersey spent the most time and effort with the Supreme Court.

The state currently has 13 online sports betting available. According to this report, the state of New Jersey received more than $300 million worth of wagers in January 2019 alone. In its first year of being legal, players wagered more than $1.2 billion on sports betting in New Jersey.

Nevada Online Sports Betting

Sports betting in Nevada dates back to the 1940s. It was the first place in the US to accept sports bets, covering several events including horse racing, and the sportsbooks continue to be the industry standard across the country today.

But even with the removal of PASPA, Nevada does not have any online sports betting sites. Instead, players can bet on sports online through the casinos’ mobile apps. Most of the biggest casinos, including MGM and Caesars, have an online app to download and bet on sports.

Pennsylvania Online Sports Betting

November 2018 brought the end of a long wait for sports betting in Pennsylvania. Since then, eight sportsbooks have opened. It wasn’t until May 2019 that online sports betting was available though.

Sugarhouse Sportsbook was the first online sports betting site to launch, with Parx Sportsbook, Rivers Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook PA following suit.

West Virginia Online Sports Betting

Sports betting became available in West Virginia in August 2018, with Hollywood Casino Charles Town launching its sportsbook soon after. Since then, all the other casinos in the state have opened their own sportsbook.

In terms of online sports betting, DraftKings Sportsbook launched its online sportsbook in August 2019. It’s reported that this version has all the same functionality as DraftKings New Jersey too.

Mississippi Online Sports Betting

Mississippi is one of the biggest gambling markets in the US. Players could legally gamble in Mississippi in August 2018 but there are no online sports betting websites at this time. This is because there are no provisions written into the laws to permit online gambling right now.

However, mobile betting is allowed for players onsite. 

Pearl River Resort is working on creating a betting app to allow players to make bets while inside the casino. The aim is to allow players to avoid waiting to place their bets in the physical sportsbook.


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Legal US Online Poker

Is Online gambling legal

Online poker is legal in the US. It’s possible to play against players across the country, with some online poker sites pooling players together.

New Jersey Online Poker

It was legal to play online poker in New Jersey back in 2013. Some of the world’s biggest online poker sites have a presence in New Jersey, including, NJ 888, PokerStars NJ and PartyPoker. and NJ 888 were some of the earliest sites to bring online poker to the state of New Jersey. PokerStars NJ became available in 2016 and has gone on to become the online poker market leader.

In 2017, New Jersey allowed online poker sites to pool players from Nevada and Delaware together.

Nevada Online Poker

The only form of online gambling that is licensed and regulated in the state of Nevada is online poker. The first site to go live was Station Casinos’ Ultimate Poker in 2013, with NV coming later that year. However, Ultimate Poker shut down in 2014. NV promotes the World Series of Poker to its players, offering the opportunity to win seats to some of its biggest tournaments and to win bracelets from online tournaments too.

Delaware Online Poker

The online poker on offer in Delaware is provided by 888 Holdings’ software. Players can access it through the state’s racinos.

Pennsylvania Online Poker

Players have been able to legally play online poker in Pennsylvania since October 2017. The regulations have been written to potentially enter similar interstate compacts as New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.

West Virginia Online Poker

It became legal to play online poker in West Virginia on March 2019. The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act allows the state to launch online poker apps sooner rather than later, with the five casinos expected to have their own in the near future.


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Legal US Online Lottery

Is Online gambling legal

Illinois Online Lottery

The first online lottery in Illinois was launched in March 2012, when early forms of Mega Millions and Lotto were available to play. This meant that Illinois was the first US to allow people to play the lottery online.

In December 2012, the online lottery expanded with the introduction of Powerball. Today, there are daily lottery games and scratch-offs available.

Georgia Online Lottery

Residents of Georgia can play the lottery online throughout the state. It became legal to play the lottery online in Georgia in November 2012. 

There are plenty of games available such as Mega Millions and Powerball, as well as Keno and the exclusive Georgia Lottery Diggi Games, a series of social games and scratch-offs that include bingo and crosswords.

Kentucky Online Lottery

The sale of online lottery tickets were approved in Kentucky in 2013 but it wasn’t until 2016 that online lottery tickets became available to purchase. Players can access daily draw, instant play and jackpot games. 

To buy the tickets, players must create an account and deposit funds. However, due to anti-money laundering laws, once the money has been deposited, players cannot withdraw it until it’s been used and returned as winnings.

Michigan Online Lottery

In 2014, the Michigan Lottery was launched. Residents were able to play Instant Keno and other online scratch-off games.

In 2016, the Michigan Lottery allowed draw game ticket sales, meaning that residents could try their luck at some of the most popular games such as Mega Millions, Powerball and Lotto 47.

Players must be at least 18 years old and a resident of Michigan to play the Michigan Lottery. They must also register for an online Michigan Lottery account.

New Hampshire Online Lottery

New Hampshire opened up the online lottery for players in June 2017, with September 2018 being the official launch.

Pennsylvania Online Lottery

Pennsylvania is the latest state to legalize the online lottery. The iLottery had an initial launch in May 2018, only featuring scratch-off games. 

However, the lottery is facing legal action from Pennsylvania casinos. They claim that the instant cash games are too similar to slot machines so until this issue is resolved, it’s unlikely that other games will be released.


The Future Of Legal Online Gambling In The US

Is Online gambling legal

With PASPA being deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, other states are beginning to follow in the steps of New Jersey Delaware et. al and legalize online gambling in the US.

Legal Online Gambling In New York

There have been several casinos and racetracks in New York for years. In 2016, four new casinos opened across the state, even though it went through a protracted legal battle with the DFS. The matter of online gambling is a different matter.

The State Senate has passed legislation with regards to online poker but it has been mostly ignored by the Assembly. Further to this, it’s thought by opening online casinos, the market could become saturated.

Lawmakers are currently focusing their attention on the legalization of online sports betting. The current legislation allows sports bets in the state’s casinos but the chances of online casino gambling coming to New York appear to be slim for the time being.

Legal Online Gambling In Illinois

Legalized gambling in Illinois has been on the cards for several years, with online gambling either being included in the plans or not. With sports betting entering the equation in recent years, online gambling has never been closer.

Of course, there are a lot of legal obstacles to overcome before it becomes a reality.

Legal Online Gambling In Indiana

The state of Indiana has been one of the leading candidates to legalize online sports betting, though, it could be a little while longer until it becomes legal to play online casino and poker games.

With this being said, the chances of more forms of online gambling becoming totally legal in Indiana when one is authorized and is shown to have a positive impact on the wider community.

Legal Online Gambling In Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts fought against gambling for years until the Expanded Gaming Act was passed in 2011. 

Online gambling has been talked about frequently in government for years but always coming to no avail. Sports betting is the most likely form of legalized online gambling to come to Massachusetts but this move could happen without online casino or poker in the conversation.

Legal Online Gambling In New Hampshire

Residents can play the online lottery in New Hampshire and sports betting is next to come. Should this prove to be a success, it won’t be long until online casino comes next.

Legal Online Gambling In Michigan

Technically speaking, online gambling in Michigan is the closest to being legal out of any of the states mentioned. In 2018, laws on online gambling, including casinos, poker, and sports were passed but the Governor vetoed the bill.

This remains the only obstacle to overcome. With the framework still in place, another push for legalized online gambling in Michigan will likely arrive in the near future.


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History Of Online Gambling In The US

Is Online gambling legal

The first-ever online casino to open in the US dates back to 1994. By 1996, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission formed and started to issue online casino and poker sites with licenses. Over the next few years, the number of online gambling websites exploded.

However, in 1999, the US Senate introduced the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act but it failed to pass through the courts.

In 2002, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled the Federal Wire Act. This prohibited any forms of sports betting but not online gambling entirely. The US Department of Justice disagreed though. They claimed that all forms of online gambling was illegal, including any efforts made to advertise it. 

In 2004, all forms of online gambling advertising were removed from Google.

The trend of making online gambling illegal continued in 2006 when the US Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This made it illegal for banks to process any transactions related to gambling websites. As soon as this was written into law, several online gambling operators left the US.

Regardless of the United States’ actions, the online gambling industry continued to grow worldwide, with operators accepting US players.

Black Friday

April 15, 2011, proved to be a landmark date for online gambling in the US for all the wrong reasons. Three of the largest online poker sites were indicted with breaching the UIGEA, including PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.

Players in the US were immediately prevented from accessing these sites, effectively shutting down online poker. This day is known as Black Friday among poker players.

During investigations, it came to light that Full Tilt Poker did not segregate player funds from company accounts, meaning that its owners were being paid millions of dollars. PokerStars bought Full Tilt Poker and paid back the US players.

DOJ Ruling On The Federal Wire Act

In December 2011, the Department of Justice ruled that the Federal Wire Act did in fact only apply to sports betting. This meant that US states could begin to reinstate online gambling.

In 2012, Delaware passed the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act to become the first US state to legalize online gambling.

In 2013, Nevada also legalized online poker and New Jersey did the same thing in less than a week later but also gave Atlantic City properties online casino licenses. November 2013 also saw Delaware legalize online poker and casinos.

Pennsylvania was next to process licenses for online casinos and poker in 2017.

The Supreme Court overturned the PASPA in 2018, meaning that several states have initiated processes to authorize online gambling, particularly in the form of sports betting.