To most European betters, online gambling is as ordinary as a cup of coffee in the morning. Yet, for a large proportion of American gamblers, this is not a luxury that they can enjoy with similar ease. Indeed, the legality of online gambling in USA states depends on a number of factors.
This all seems quite bizarre to those accustomed to online gambling, which has been with us for many years now. The whole issue of the legality of American online gambling is shrouded in misunderstanding, myth and half-truths, which only adds to an already confusing issue. Many are still pondering whether online casino gambling in USA areas is legal.
Bear in mind that we are not lawyers and are not legally trained. This article is based on our research and perception of online American gambling.
Is Online Gambling Legal In USA?
We currently stand in a position where individual states dictate whether online gambling is permitted or not within their own state jurisdiction. States are not bound by any Federal law or decision pertaining to online gambling, contrary to some stories you may read.
The simple fact is that no federal law comprehensively prohibits online gambling and sensationalist stories with headlines such as ‘online gambling illegal in USA’ are simply not true.
Much of the confusion arises from laws such as the Wire Act of 1961 and the more recent Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The latter act stipulated that any shift of money between banks is illegal if the bet was illegal in the first place.
However, this does not equate to a complete blanket online gambling ban, and it is certainly not categorically illegal for an American to place an online wager. In other words, the act of online gambling in and of itself is not illegal. There are some points, however, that American gamblers must be aware of and pay due attention to:
- Wagering at online gambling sites based on American soil is illegal. If American gamblers wish to place bets at an online casino, that outfit must be operating overseas
- Americans should not place bets over the phone
- Some states have much stricter regulations than others
Is There Online Gambling In The USA?
The simple fact is that there is. The optimal method of online gambling as an American is to wager at a site which accepts American players but conducts all its operations outside of US jurisdiction. This is how the majority of American gamblers circumvent any possible violation of state or federal law.
Still, this is all a bit of a grey area. Technically, casinos outside of the USA who accept American players could be breaking U.S law. However, the USA does not have full legal authority to prosecute in such instances, meaning that Americans who conduct online gambling in this manner are generally able to do so without worrying about any possible adverse consequences.
Realistically, you are incredibly unlikely to face any form of prosecution when betting in an overseas online casino as an American.
Why Is Online Gambling Illegal in USA?
Although this question is a little loaded, there is some truth in it in that many American banks will not permit transactions to online casinos, even if they are overseas. There are a couple of ways around this:
- Open a bank account overseas and transfer money to that account before sending it to your casino of choice. This option will incur transaction fees
- A specialised internet transaction service, in the mould of Skrill, can be used to transfer money to online casinos. However, this can be a lengthy process and some casinos will not accept this method
- Another possible depositing method is through Bitcoin or another form of cryptocurrency. The laws surrounding online gambling are focused on banking transactions and dealings. With cryptocurrency, you essentially bypass the middleman – the bank – which would probably make any prosecution, which is highly unlikely in itself, near impossible
Is Online Gambling Allowed In USA States?
As pointed out, online gambling and its legality, or otherwise, is fundamentally a concern for individual states. You should be fully aware of the law and regulations in the state in which you plan to online bet.
Most states, at least officially, deem online betting to be illegal, though these restrictions are primarily concerned with betting at an online casino based in the USA.
In the following states there is some official leeway:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
In these states online betting is essentially legal:
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
Is Online Sports Gambling Legal In USA?
Online American sports gambling is in some ways an even murkier area. The PASPA act in the early 1990s curtailed sports gambling in many states. This is where much of the confusion stems from in relation to online sports betting.
But, ultimately, it is the same principle with online sports betting as normal casino betting in the USA: it is not strictly illegal to place a bet in an online casino on sport if that state permits general sport betting. You will encounter many online sports gambling in USA options with many online casinos providing comprehensive sportsbooks.
Online Gambling Age in USA
The legal betting age in the United States is, again, slightly puzzling. Some states have opted for the age of 18 and others for the age 21. Still, the age which is actually implemented is at the local government’s discretion.
Nevertheless, the vast majority of American gamblers will be using overseas online casinos, and those casinos themselves will have their own age requirements in relation to their country of jurisdiction. One thing to note is that they may also require you to be of legal age in your local state.
Online Gambling Companies in USA
Considering that online betting is commonplace in America in spite of all the misunderstandings, you may be wondering which online casinos are suitable for American gamblers. There are a number of quality legal online gambling sites in USA states which are available.
The question ‘is online gambling illegal in USA states’ is answered with aplomb when you consider these three casinos:
- Bovada is a great option offering a sportsbook, casino and multiple deposit methods including Bitcoin. It is regularly rated as the best online casino for American gamblers and has a particularly impressive poker site. Unfortunately, it is not available for players in New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware and Maryland
- Sports Betting.Ag. This is a comprehensive casino offering everything you could wish for in an online casino. The sportsbook is particularly impressive. Also accepts a number of cryptocurrencies
- Lucky Red Casino. They are renowned for their outstanding promotions and bonuses. A very professional, sleek casino
Pros And Cons Of Online Gambling In The USA
- Possibilities of some fantastic wins
- Options are growing
- Signs that attitudes are shifting in a favourable direction for gamblers
- As with any online gambling, the ease and comfort of it cannot be replicated at a standard brick-and-mortar casino
- ‘Online gambling illegal in the USA’ is a phrase still seen in the American media, despite the fact that such phrases don’t point out the full picture
- Much of the law is incredibly confusing concerning online betting
- Overseas transactions can incur fees
- There are fewer options for American gamblers
- Some states still have quite strict restrictions and regulations concerning online betting
When Will Online Gambling Be Legal In USA?
Good question. In some sense it seems like the USA is struggling to keep pace with the gambling market in general, and politicians don’t appear to appreciate that to make online gambling legal in USA states would make sense on many levels. To make online gambling in the USA legal would be a move with the modern times that is sorely needed for American gamblers.
In February of 2013 there was a significant step taken in the direction of formal legalisation of American online gambling. 12 Atlantic City casinos in New Jersey were permitted to offer online options of all their games for a 10-year period.
This is being rolled-out as a tester of sorts to assess what the impact will be. It is a sure signal that the tide is shifting towards more legalisation of online gambling and in the future, we expect moves of a similar nature which could eventually, officially, make online gambling in USA legal.
The bottom line is that thousands of Americans bet online every single day, and to believe that there is no online gambling in USA states is very naïve indeed. There are signs that attitudes are slowly shifting towards favouring an official regulated online betting market. This will be more than welcome news to American gamblers nationwide still not quite sure of the legality of their actions.
Ultimately, online gambling in the USA is not strictly illegal and you can wager at an overseas online casino as an American without any real concerns.