Is online gambling legal in the US? This is obviously quite a broad question, of which the answer is incredibly lengthy. Generally speaking, online gambling is illegal in the United States of America, with some exceptions.
Despite in-house gambling being legal across most of the nation, pushing for new laws regarding the legality of online gambling has been a real struggle for online gambling enthusiasts. That said, players fortunate enough to live in any of the states mentioned below can gamble either locally or online to some extent:
Envied for its wide selection of online gambling services, New Jersey covers the “Big Three” in terms of online gambling, with online poker, online sports betting, and online casino betting legal in the state. Accumulating hundreds of millions of dollars through its online gambling and in-house gambling rooms, New Jersey boasts arguably the best gambling experience for players.
There are dozens of NJ online sportsbooks and casinos that are currently jockeying for the highly coveted top spots in the densely populated state, and this has resulted in very generous complimentary bonuses given out to both new and loyal players.
There are still some restrictions in place, however, as wagers must be placed within the state lines of New Jersey and gamblers must be over 21 years of age to try their luck. Wagering on high school sports or in-state collegiate events is also restricted.
Online casinos are also very popular in New Jersey and have generated over 1.4 billion in revenue since their inception. All online casino servers must be based within the city limits of Atlantic City, however, the casinos are open to any player within the state. There are currently 20 online casinos regulated and legal to play in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is the regulatory body in this state. Their mission states that they are present to protect the public interest by maintaining a legitimate and viable casino gaming industry, free from the influences of organized crime, and assuring the honesty, good character, and integrity of casino owners, operators, employees, and vendors.
2019 was an enormous year for online gambling in Pennsylvania, with online casinos, online sports gambling, and online poker all legalized during those twelve months. Customers have the choice of betting at casinos or from the comfort of their homes thanks to the freedoms granted by the state’s gambling laws.
Statute HB 271 was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf in October 2017 which legalized online casinos. This law, combined with the Supreme Court ruling in 2018, opened many gambling opportunities for residents of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board currently oversees and regulates over 20 online casinos and sportsbooks, and the list is growing year after year.
Although online poker was legalized in West Virginia more than two years ago, we’re yet to see an app or website launched in the state. Players can legally enjoy online sports betting and online casino action as the two have been permitted since 2018 and 2020 respectively.
West Virginia has slowly emerged as one of the leaders in legal and regulated online gambling. The state allows online casinos, online sports betting, online horse racing, daily fantasy sports, and soon launching an online poker platform.
West Virginia legalized interactive wagering in March 2019 with the passing of House Bill 2934, also known as the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act. The first online casino was launched in July 2020, with dozens following. These casinos are regulated and governed by the West Virginia Lottery. Sports betting was legalized in 2018, not long after the Supreme Court's decision to legalize sports betting federally.
West Virginia is also less restrictive than other states when it comes to sports betting. While high school sports wagers are prohibited, e-sports and live wagering on collegiate games are completely legal. Including in-state events.
Despite not offering online casinos or online poker, Indiana still serves up online sports betting for consumers, with eight sportsbooks to choose from. Despite the fact that online casinos and online poker rooms are illegal, playing at real-life casinos and poker tables are permitted.
Indiana further cemented its status as a gambling-friendly state on April 25th, 2019 when the Indiana State Legislature passed act H 1015. The bill was signed into law on May 8, 2019, by Governor Eric Holcomb, removing physical casino restrictions and legalizing sports betting. In addition, the Indiana Gaming Commission was charged with regulating and licensing online sportsbooks in the state.
The restrictions are similar to that of other states in the US. Players must be 21 years old and must place any wagers within state lines. Your residency or home state remains irrelevant as long as you adhere to the geotracking guidelines.
Indiana is a friendly state for gamblers because it has a lower tax on casino and sportsbook revenue. This opens up many more options for bonuses and for players to receive loyalty rewards or “comp points”. It’s also completely legal to bet on in-state teams, such as Notre Dame or Purdue University.
Online sports betting is legal in Iowa and has been since mid-2019, however, we’re yet to hear of any plans on legalizing online casinos or online poker rooms being legalized.
In order to access any one of the five registered online casinos you’ll need to sign up in person at the venue, but that’s the only difference compared to the previously mentioned states. There are no plans to legalize online poker or online casino betting anytime soon.
Overall, Iowa is one of the more interesting states to legalize online sports betting. The history of gambling in the state includes a church picnic, a Catholic priest, and an overzealous State Attorney General.
In 1971, a church picnic, which had been held annually for over 40 years, was raided by law enforcement at the Attorney General's direction. The 8,000 attendees were sent home and Father Carl Ruhland was arrested for operating an illegal gambling operation. The picnic would offer small card games, a wheel of fortune, and bingo as fundraisers for the church.
The public outcry was immense. Within a year, the Iowa Legislature passed a resolution to repeal the state's ban on gambling.
On May 13th, 2019, SF 617 was passed and signed by Governor Kim Reynolds. This made Iowa the 11th state to legalize sports betting. The state's gaming authority regulating sports wagering is the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. The same rules apply to most other states. Players must be 21 and make all wagers within the boundaries of the state lines.
In June 2021, Governor John Bel Edwards signed the sports betting bill with 55 out of the 64 parishes in full support. The first sportsbooks went live in January 2022, and players in the 55 parishes can now bet on sports at 5+ online sportsbooks. Daily fantasy sports is also legal and went live in July 2021.
Players can also partake in other online gambling activities in Louisiana including online lotteries, horse racing, and social casinos.
Unfortunately, online casino games are still not legal, unless players use the social/sweepstake casino sites. Online poker is also not available in Louisiana currently.
Similar to Iowa, you won’t find online casinos or online poker action in New Hampshire. To play poker or your favorite slots, you’ll need to visit a bar or any establishment which is registered to provide such services.
Thankfully, online sports betting in New Hampshire is legal and has been since December 2019. Players can visit DraftKings from within the state and start betting on sports events now if they would like.
Regulation is overseen by the New Hampshire State Lottery and Division of Sports Wagering after the passing of bill H 480-FN.
While players are not allowed to wager on in-state teams or even in-state events, New Hampshire seems to be a little less restrictive than other states and allows gamblers as young as 18 to participate.
The first-ever bet was placed on December 30th, 2019 by governor Chris Sununu. Ironically enough, the bet was a New England Patriots Superbowl championship future, which was ultimately a loser as the Tennessee Titans defeated them just 6 days later in the AFC Wild Card round.
The Silver State was king of sports betting until legalization began rolling out in other states. Because of Nevada’s head-start, it’s no shock that it arrived on the scene with a sports betting site before anyone else back in 2010.
Additionally, players can enjoy online poker, with WSOP.com carrying the vast majority of the states’ player base. As of now, there are no plans to pass legislation allowing online casinos, and players must instead head to their local casinos.
With PASPA preventing states from setting up their own online gambling sites and services for years, Delaware took full advantage of the legislation’s death by becoming the second state to offer up sports betting online.
Preceded by online casinos and online poker rooms which were launched in 2013, Delaware is one of the country’s prime spots for everything gambling-related.
One of the first states to offer online sports betting products post-PASPA, Delaware has become a central hub for players interested in sports betting. The Delaware State Lottery Office is responsible for governing and regulating gambling activities in the state.
As things stand, Colorado won’t be providing online casino services or online poker rooms in the near future. There are no plans to pass legislation for either, however, online sports gambling has been legal in The Centennial State since 2019. Interested gamblers can visit any of the thirty-three casino venues scattered around the state for the time being.
Proposition DD (House Bill 1327) was passed in November 2019, which effectively legalized and regulated sports betting both online and in person in the state of Colorado. The proposition’s approval allowed the state’s 17 current casino operators to apply for licenses for physical or online sportsbooks, where bets can be placed on the outcomes of sports events.
The casinos have to pay a 10% tax on net proceeds, and a majority of the money will go toward Colorado’s water plan. According to the Denver Post, it passed by a very slim margin, receiving only about 51% of the vote. High school sports, E-sports, and individual amateur performance wagers remain illegal, but all other mainstream betting options are “fair game”.
As in most other states, players must be 21 years of age and located within the Colorado state lines for their online wager to be accepted.
By adding online sports betting to its annual state budget in 2018, bettors in Rhode Island were told in a round-a-bout way that the service would be legalized in the state soon.
And it was true, with online sports betting opening operations from September of 2019, albeit without plans for online poker or online casino sites coming to fruition. Rhode Island Lottery is responsible for regulating the sports betting industry in the state.
Online sports betting services in Tennessee were made a reality in November 2020 but as a mobile-only state. This came as something of a surprise considering the state has a grand total of zero sports betting venues, but we’re not complaining!
Unsurprisingly, though, we’re unlikely to see Tennessee approve online poker or online casino anytime soon - but hopefully, the success of online sports betting changes minds.
They do have a bit more restrictions than other states though. There is no live betting of collegiate sports allowed in any way. While you may bet on these contests before they start, live wagers are explicitly banned.
Prop bets on collegiate sports are also banned. They also follow the normal regulations of other states, you must be 21 years of age and within Tennessee state lines for your wager to be accepted.
In December 2019, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a ground-breaking bill titled the Lawful Sports Betting Act which expanded many of the legal forms of gambling in Michigan. Online sports betting, online casinos, online poker, and daily fantasy sports all became legal and regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
Following the opening of the state’s first-ever sportsbook in 2020, online casinos, online poker, and online sports betting have launched in Michigan in what has been a rapid push in the right direction.
Finding the right fit for your online sports or online casino taste shouldn’t be too difficult, with dozens of platforms currently active.
Unlike some other states, the only restriction is on high school sports. As a result, MI players are free to wager on some of the United States’ largest universities that call Michigan home. The well-known and long-standing company “Pokerstars” is the first online poker operation available in Michigan.
In May 2021 Connecticut legalized online gambling with online casinos, sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and poker now available. The Connecticut Gaming Commission regulates all legal gambling activities in the state.
Online casinos and sportsbooks need a land-based partner to offer products to CT residents. Foxwood casino collaborated with DraftKings, while Mohegan Sun Casino partnered with FanDuel. In addition, the Connecticut Lottery teamed with Rush Street Interactive. These affiliations have produced what we see as online gambling in CT.
Important moves were made last year for the legalization of online sports betting in Virginia, with lawmakers passing legislation for the service to be made legal.
However, we haven’t seen the same determination from anybody with the power to create change in terms of online casinos or online poker sites being passed as legal. Until that happens, expect online sports betting to be the only one of the Big Three that’s allowed in Virginia.
The bill was signed in July 2020 and allows 18 licenses to various private corporations.
Interestingly, part of the bill also permits 5 physical casinos to be open in different parts of the state. These casinos are expected to be opened by 2023. Virginia does not have much of a history of being gambling-friendly, so the popularity of the activity remains to be seen. The state does have geographical advantages though, being a centralized location to several major metropolitan areas. It’s also the 12th largest state in the US.
Virginia does have some restrictions as well, no collegiate team from Virginia may be the subject of any wager, and live-betting on collegiate games is strictly prohibited.
Since September 2021, residents of Arizona can now place wagers on sports and the New Tribal-State Gaming Compacts were approved and signed into law. This Compact is now valid for the next 20 years.
Online and retail sports betting are legal in the state of Montana, although mobile sports betting is confined to venues that are permitted to host sports betting.
Yet, Montana is yet to show signs of preparing paperwork to create legal spaces for online poker and online casino gaming, leaving players limited in what online gambling they are able to indulge in.
In June 2019, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order legalizing and regulating sports betting within the state. By the summer of 2020, several online sportsbooks were fully operational and accepting wagers, with the first accepted wager being placed in March of 2020 by BetRivers sportsbook.
The 6th largest state in the US does have some restrictions, however. Players must be at least 21 years of age and wagers must be placed within state lines. Betting on in-state amateur teams, such as the University of Illinois or Northwestern, is strictly prohibited. Betting on your own sport as a player, coach, referee or other principal is also illegal for obvious reasons.
Due to the size of Illinois and the reputation of Chicago as a very sports-oriented city, one would assume that there is a bright future ahead for legalized online sports betting in the state.
Illinois’ sports betting total wagers topped $435 million in October 2020 alone and will undoubtedly continue to rise as more operators enter the market.
Things are a little bit complicated in the capital, with a browser-only site the only way for players to get their online sports betting fix. The bill which legalized DC online sports gambling was passed in January 2019 and the first platform providing services came in May 2020, while other platforms await licensing to be granted. The law limits the number of sportsbooks in the city to a maximum of five, with three sportsbooks already active. The Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG) licenses and regulates all sportsbooks.
Like most other states, there is no roadmap as to if or when other online gambling options such as online casino sites and online poker rooms will be made legal.
New York legalized online gambling in 2021 and online sports betting sites/apps went live in January 2022. There are currently seven retail sportsbook locations.
NY bettors also now have access to a wide range of top sports betting apps such as DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, BetRivers, BetMGM, and many more to come.
With the successful development of a retail sportsbook in July of 2019, many Arkansas residents expected further additions, particularly considering the state is permitted, through the law, to create a few more retail sports betting operators. Unfortunately for those seeking out online betting, the hobby is illegal. The state authority responsible for governing sports betting is the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC).
The state jumped eagerly at the opportunity to set up retail sports betting upon the fall of PASPA, with the initial facility open for registration in August 2018.
Following that, we’ve seen plenty more sports betting shops pop up all over the state, and online sports betting is allowed in a very limited way - you can only do so when inside the four walls of a sports betting shop.
With two casinos currently open for action in North Carolina, it’s no surprise that sports betting was made legal in June 2020. Despite legislation allowing sports betting, the launch of sportsbooks within the state has been tentative and we’re yet to see any real movement.
Online sports betting is restricted, as it wasn’t made legal through the legislation which allowed retail sports betting.
An interesting case study. New Mexico has sportsbooks, but the state doesn’t have any law which specifically permits them. Since 2018, New Mexico has opened doors to five casinos, but none of these provides online sports betting services.
Regardless, you can still bet in-house, which is more than what other states’ players can do.
Following a hugely successful referendum result that saw Maryland voters vote in favor of sports betting being made legal, we’re now awaiting the first retail gambling facility to open up. Sports betting was signed into law on May 18, 2021, with the State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency in charge of all legal betting operations.
We expect doors to open relatively soon, but it might well be a few years before sports betting becomes a mainstream form of entertainment in the state.
Right now, online betting and retail sports betting are illegal within the state of Alabama. Legislation has been proposed quite recently to set up an Alabama Sports Wagering Commission, and the idea is that under this bill bettors can wager on professional and college sports.
Last year, Alaskan lawmakers proposed legislation to make sports betting legal in some capacity, but we’re still awaiting the verdict. As of now, online betting is illegal in the state with only charitable gaming, social gambling with friends, and betting within tribal casinos allowed.
To be frank, gambling laws in California are messy and difficult to understand. Bettors are technically allowed to bet on sports - but only if it’s on-track pari-mutuel horse racing betting.
So, for the most part, it’s illegal. Online daily fantasy leagues are allowed too, but other than that specific instance, sports betting online is still not legal. Legislation has been put forward to change this.
For all the things that Florida men can do, online gambling isn’t one of them. The state has been pushing for new laws incorporating sports betting in Florida, but it is yet to launch. For now, Floridians can participate in state lotteries and enjoy tribal casinos.
Once more we’re talking about a state that hasn’t set up retail sportsbooks or legalized online gambling but has proposed legislation aiming to do so. Bills put forward would - if passed - limit the state to providing only ten licenses and allow players to wager on the professional and college-level sports action.
Unless you’re inviting your buddies around for a private game of poker, gambling in Hawaii is a big no-no. The legislation was proposed quite some time ago and if passed it would succeed in allowing sports betting, but nothing has been mentioned by the state since 2019. Up to now, only social gambling is legal in a private setting.
Imagine tumbleweed rustling through the streets upon the mere mention of online gambling, and you’ll have an idea of what state lawmakers in Idaho think.
Sports betting and online gambling are illegal, with no legislation being pushed forward as of now. In spite of their absolute opposition to online gambling, Idaho permits consumers to take part in state lotteries, and charitable games and indulge in tribal casinos.
Despite being illegal, there’s been quite a bit of movement taken in Kansas regarding online sports gambling. Legislation is currently being looked at with five bills proposed, all of which seek to create a legal space for sports betting fun.
No online gambling is allowed in Kentucky, along with sports betting. Various gambling bills have been proposed previously with no clear success as of yet, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for any new information.
Bettors in Maine were so close to enjoying sports betting when a law was almost passed that would have legalized professional and college sports betting.
Frustratingly, the governor turned the bill down and the state's lawmakers need to begin working on new legislation all over again. Expect to hear murmurs from Maine sooner rather than later.
The legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts shouldn’t be too far from becoming a reality as lawmakers succeeded in their efforts to get a crucial bill some traction moving forward.
Under this bill, sports betting would be allowed from mobile devices across the state and customers wouldn’t need to be associated with a tribal casino to play. Hopefully, we get positive news soon.
All bills, no action. It’s a similar story in Missouri as it is in several other states, with online sports betting illegal as things stand.
There’s a chance that news might arise regarding one of the proposed Missouri gambling bills, but we wouldn’t bet on it. Even social gambling is prohibited by law here.
From 2020, Nebraska legalized casino games at horse-racing tracks. A bill put forward by a senator proposed that fantasy sports, sports betting, and poker be made legal within the state, but we’re yet to see much progress being made. State lotteries are permitted.
In an incredibly disappointing sequence of events, lawmakers in North Dakota resoundingly voted against a bill that would have legalized sports betting on professional and college sports. Residents may enjoy a private gambling session with friends, or take part in charitable events, though.
Essentially, you can gamble in Ohio - just not on sports or online. Unfortunately, these are two fundamental aspects of enjoying betting, so the fact that lawmakers are looking down upon legislation that may legalize the form of entertainment isn’t promising.
Sports betting is in the works though and likely coming in early 2023. But, residents in Ohio can bet on horse racing both online and domestically. However, no other sports are available for gambling just yet.
Want to bet on sports from your mobile device? We recommend you don’t visit Oklahoma, then. A bill has been pushed to make sports betting legal in each of their tribal casinos, however, no action has been taken on it.
It should be noted that social gambling is also illegal in Oklahoma, so no home games with friends.
Sports betting was always legal in Oregon, much to the surprise of bettors. This is because for years there were no sports-betting facilities open in the state, despite it being allowed.
Online betting is not legal, and even commercial casinos are banned from the state. Charitable gambling, social gambling, and gambling at tribal casinos can be done.
Is gambling legal in South Carolina? Well, unless you want to get on a riverboat, then no. Bills have been proposed and talks have taken place, but we’re waiting to see real steps forward from lawmakers in the state.
Online betting is prohibited by law in South Dakota, as are private social games. Players are able to partake in charitable gambling, tribal casinos, and sports, but until we see bills passed, online gambling will remain against the law.
In a state where it’s stereotypically assumed anything goes, online betting and sports betting aren’t permitted to take place. A referendum is needed to pass a bill allowing mobile sports betting on professional and college events, but no date has been set.
One of the least friendly states when it comes to gambling of any kind, Vermont allows only charitable betting, state lotteries, and private social gambling. Bills have been proposed, but we’re awaiting real action from lawmakers.
After passing a bill that allowed sports betting at tribal casinos, the next step for Washington state is to allow mobile sports betting.
However, we haven’t seen any positive moves from lawmakers in this regard and it’s unlikely to happen. Other than that, it’s quite an open state in terms of allowing social gambling, state lotteries, and other forms of betting.
No sports betting, no online betting, and no commercial casinos. The only gambling that’s legal in Wisconsin is social gaming, charitable gambling, state lotteries, or tribal casino games. Additionally, we haven’t seen bills attempting to push for the legalization of online betting proposed.
The final state on our list of states that allow some sort of gambling. As of April 2021, mobile sports betting is legal and the first two sportsbooks launched in September 2021.
Gambling isn’t viewed as a bit of fun in two states in particular: Hawaii and Utah. Although there is a little more leeway for gambling in Hawaii, the state of Utah comes crashing down heavily on any form of gaming that results in gaining or losing money. Here, we’ll detail the state’s respective laws as best we can:
In essence, gambling is frowned upon in Hawaii. It goes against the “family culture” embedded into the state’s foundation, therefore even residents are often vehemently against the hobby. There are no casinos, no charitable gambling events, no state lotteries, and certainly no online betting platforms. However, social gambling in a private setting is legal - and this is something not many people are aware of. Interestingly, sports betting is illegal even in a social setting where only friends are taking part in the gambling. It’s considered a felony to gamble outside of a social setting in Hawaii.
Even daily fantasy sports leagues are illegal in Hawaii, with all proposed legislation seeking to legalize sports betting turned down. Don’t expect major changes to occur anytime soon.
Imagine Hawaii, but no social gambling. That’s Utah. The state’s constitution is against any form of gambling, and we haven’t seen doorways open for gamblers in Utah since 1925. While other states have relaxed betting prohibition laws, Utah’s lawmakers have only strengthened them.
Gambling is a Class B misdemeanor and could see convicts face jail time and get hit with a fine of around $1,000. For repeat offenders, fines get heavier. If you’re in Utah, don’t risk gambling - even with friends - it’s not worth the punishments. And Nevada is next door!
Perhaps the fastest-growing form of online sports betting in the US today, fantasy sports betting remains illegal or unavailable in some states. Most surprisingly of these is Nevada, where lawmakers ruled that fantasy sports services required a license. Following this outcome, all operators within the state packed up and left, leaving a vacant spot in America's most prominent gambling scene.
Other states where users cannot play fantasy sports betting are Washington, Arizona, and Utah, the latter of which comes as the least shocking. Daily fantasy leagues have various rules and laws which they must abide by depending on the state they’re operating in, so there’s no blanket piece of legislation that covers the entire country and makes the form of gambling either legal or illegal. In fact, daily fantasy sports betting is neither legal nor illegal in many states, although this will likely change with its expanding popularity.
It’s incredibly difficult for operators to set up online bingo services in the US due to strict laws regarding gambling, making the game an unpopular choice amongst serious gamblers but an often played game in charitable events. Florida, for example, is vehemently against online bingo when there is a direct winner or loser, but the state permits land-based bingo when it’s for a charitable cause. In this instance, every single penny earned must go towards charity.
Finding out if your state provides online bingo can be tough. Laws are often unclear and the various Acts are applied in different ways across the nation, which has led to states developing their own take on the words within these Acts. For regular players, this makes trying to play online bingo more effort than it’s worth. As you can see from our table, the only state in which players can play online bingo is New Jersey. This is because the state has created its own form of betting license granted to registered casinos that wish to offer legal forms of betting. Unfortunately, other states have not followed suit.
More accessible than online bingo, online poker is a fun game enjoyed by millions of players every day. After the poker boom during the early 2000s, online poker sites took a massive hit in 2011. Known as Black Friday, April 14th of that year is remembered as one of the darkest days in poker history. From out of the blue, attacks from the DOJ arrived left, right, and center of the poker world - targeting a trio of the games’ most popular sites. By the end of this onslaught, PokerStars, FullTilt, and Absolute Poker were forced to pay for their alleged crimes. Online poker in the USA is still recovering, more than ten years later.
Now, there are six states in which online poker is legal. These are Pennsylvania, Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Michigan, and West Virginia. Players in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada can all play together on their respective poker sites thanks to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, also known as the MSIGA. It remains to be seen whether more US states legalize online poker.
While most states offer a state-wide lottery, several don’t allow players to purchase tickets online. The reasoning is exactly what you’d expect - complicated, outdated gambling laws.
However, there are a few states that provide residents the opportunity to play online lottery, including Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, and New Hampshire. Both Georgia and Illinois have offered these online lottery games since 2012, while Michigan started rolling out its services in 2014. Players may enjoy keno games, buy lottery tickets, and much more through online operators’ sites.
Pennsylvania is the most recent state to allow online lottery gaming, albeit in a limited manner. Users can buy virtual scratch cards, with many more games expected to be added to the PA iLottery in the near future.
Also known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, PASPA blocked states from offering legal sports betting to consumers. The Act was signed by President Bush in 1992 and, as it was birthed from a former NBA athlete named Bill Bradley, the Act was suitably branded the “Bradley Act” by many. Bradley introduced the bill during his stint as a US senator one year prior to its inception as law, with another man involved in the NBA, David Stern, voicing his support of the bill in Congress.
To understand PASPA, we must look at it from its roots. Following a study that demonstrated in no uncertain terms that gambling was becoming an issue among the population, Congress’ stance became clear; sports betting should be banned entirely. Thus, PASPA’s implementation into law was unavoidable. On June 2nd, 1992, Congress voted massively in favor of the bill with the final outcome 88-5. From January of 1993, PASPA officially became law. States with exemptions from PASPA were Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana, all of which were to varying degrees.
We’re now almost twenty years from PASPA’s introduction to the US, and the Supreme Court has since adjudged the Act as unconstitutional. In essence, this ruling has now allowed states to open up their sports betting industries for the first time since the 1980s. The fall of PASPA will undoubtedly lead to a freer, more diverse sports betting market in America.
The UIGEA, in its truest form, could have killed the US gambling scene. At its core, the UIGEA, which stands for Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, made it illegal for banks to accept payments taking place between customers and gambling sites of any kind. Once signed, offshore gambling operators in the US began pulling their businesses out of the country with haste.
Sites that put on a brave face and remained open for business saw dramatic dips in traffic, and understandably so. These services faced an almost impossible proposition of attempting to remain unseen while simultaneously attracting new users. E-wallets were quickly adopted by an ever-intuitive society, but due to a number of cease-and-desists, even these entities had to put their tails between their legs. As a workaround, you’ll often find that online betting sites help customers process transactions through cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, or via Wire Transfers.
Commonly known as The Wire Act, the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 was signed by President John F. Kennedy. Its goal at the time had nothing to do with online gambling, but rather, it targeted organized crime among gangs and mobs. It was virtually irrelevant for decades until internet gambling took off at the start of the 1990s.
DOJ officials were keen to expand the Wire Act’s control, by setting it up as a blockade for online gambling. The Wire Act was subsequently rewritten and re-interpreted on countless occasions in an effort to update its language to include online gambling. Officials found themselves embroiled in a battle with their own laws, though. The UIGEA conflicted with the language of the Wire Act as it didn’t prevent intrastate transactions involving online gambling - meaning it was legal to process a purchase in any state where gambling is allowed, regardless of whether or not part of that transaction takes place in a different state. By the end of this back-and-forth, it was ruled that the Wire Act solely applied to online sports betting, not online lotteries and other types of online gambling.
This changed under the Trump administration. In 2018, President Donald Trump reversed the 2011 decision. Under its current guise, the Wire Act prohibits all forms of online gambling that take place across state lines. This doesn’t just apply to the player, it applies to data too. Essentially, if a payment was started in Nevada, and even a fragment of data crossed into California, the entire process would be considered an illegal activity. There’s a court battle taking place between New Hampshire and defendants of President Trump’s reversal right now, and we’ll update readers on the outcome once announced. President Biden has since gone on record as saying he “doesn’t support adding unnecessary restrictions to the gaming industry as the Trump administration has done.”
The legal gambling age in the United States also varies greatly by state and by game or venue.
See the chart below for the age requirements for each jurisdiction.
*Native American Reservations are geographically present in this state, where all offered gambling activities have a minimum age of 18 regardless of state law.
** If a game is not listed, it is illegal or not offered in that state. Hawaii and Utah do not offer legal gambling of any type.