Online Gambling In the USA: Is it Legal?


The legal process in the US is complicated because individual states can create their own laws. In essence, this means that something can be legal according to federal law but illegal according to state law.

Online gambling is one of these things. Technically, there is no federal law against it but it is illegal in some states. While you’ll probably hear that states very rarely prosecute online gambling this is not a comfort if you become one of the rare cases.

This makes it sound fairly simple but, in fact, it’s not. While there is no federal law stopping you using online gambling sites, the operational tactics of many online facilities do not adhere to the recently changed financial procedures.

In short, you may be able to legally play but that doesn’t mean that the online gambling site that you intend to use is trading legally. This is why there have not been individual cases against players, it’s the internet gambling firms that are being prosecuted.

In fact, United States players have a lot of options; you just need to know the rules and regulations surrounding online gambling and which laws specifically apply to your jurisdiction.

States That Permit Online Gambling

At the moment New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Nevada are the only states that offer legal online casinos and/or online poker. West Virginia and Rhode Island do offer legal online sportsbooks.

However, it is worth noting that these are the states that have created online gambling regulations, that companies need to adhere to if they want to trade.

States that have not created legislation don’t have any direct legislation for or against online gambling, the laws that are in place are too old to be relevant. This makes it difficult for these states to enforce the law against companies or individuals.

The Gray Area

If you choose to use a company based outside of the US then there is nothing that says it is illegal for you to play.

However, where the company is based and whether they comply with US regulations determines whether they can legally offer you the service. Being able to use an online casino doesn’t mean they are legally operating in the USA.

The bottom line is actually simple, from a practical standpoint, private citizens are never prosecuted by the state for gambling with their own money, this makes it practically acceptable to undertake online gambling.

Financial Influence

However, just because you can’t be prosecuted doesn’t mean you can actually gamble! Many people experience problems placing a deposit in an online account because the bank or credit card issuer will block any transaction linked to gambling.

This is partly a cautious approach, preventing them from dealing with cashback and fraud claims. But, it is more than they need to do and it can be very frustrating if you’re trying to play online.

For that reason, many people use crypto-currencies instead, as they allow the deposit of funds in online casinos.

Online gambling is a billion dollar business, that’s why states are taking it into their own hands to create legislation, in an effort to benefit from the potential income and perhaps make your life simpler.