Online Casinos in the USA - What's Legal?

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by Dave Brown
Online Casinos in the USA

Online gambling in the United States is legalized on a state-by-state basis. Each website is free to determine the scale, reach, and available products available to consumers and the specific legal framework that binds them. Since 2018, the USA has seen an increase in the number of states that have legalized various gambling products.

At present, 12 states have legalized online casinos, online poker, or both, and 17 states have passed a law and a regulatory framework that allows them to offer various forms of sports betting. Of course, sports betting and online gambling regulations will vary from one state to the next.

We have reviewed and examined all the available online casinos in the United States to bring you a detailed breakdown of the current situation in the country. To find out how we investigate the best available casinos and what you stand to gain by playing there.

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Gambling Laws in the United States and Their Current Status

Gambling laws in the United States aren't bound on a federal level. Of course, leaving each of the 50 states to self-regulate can cause a lot of confusion. Therefore, we have simply decided to put together a list of all the states that offer a form of gambling.

But first, we will explain the background. Online casinos and online poker have always fallen within the remit of individual states. That meant that if a state wanted to, it could introduce online poker or casino games.

One thing that states couldn't do is have sports betting. That changed in May 2018 when the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) passed in 1992.

Since the ban fell in 2018, 17 states have successfully regulated their industry and offer various products. Online casinos have mostly been legalized independently from PASPA and much earlier at that. Nevada and Delaware began their regulatory push in 2010 and 2013 respectively.

Online Casinos in the United States in 2021

  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • Delaware

Online Poker in the United States in 2021

  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • Nevada
  • Delaware

Online Sports Betting in the United States in 2021

  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Montana
  • Colorado
  • West Virginia
  • Nevada
  • Delaware

Online poker and online casinos are obviously still in the process of enjoying the same mass endorsement as sports betting. While there used to be some opposition in early 2020, a lot has changed and many states, including Michigan and Virginia, are now looking for ways to introduce online casino and poker games.

Illinois and Alabama are already looking as more promising states preparing to pass iGaming sooner rather than later. DraftKings and FanDuel obtained temporary licenses for sports gambling apps in Illinois, but they are now looking to expand into online casinos.

In February 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey ordered a study on the effects of a potential expansion of online gambling in the state, citing online poker and online casinos as the likely beneficiaries.

While some states have used 2020 to push forward with online gambling legislation, others have been slower to adapt. California, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Massachusetts have all focused on recovering their brick-and-mortar segments and have mothballed most of the efforts going into the legalization of online gambling in their respective jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, the four initial states continue to offer world-class online casinos while complying with regulations. This means that individuals have to verify their identity, residency, and age. Presently, the gambling age in all four states that allow online casino gambling is 21.

For information about the Florida Gambling Bill we recommend this in-depth article about the State of Gaming In Florida

Background Story of US Online Gambling 

Online gambling in the United States was long a banned activity. Since the early 1990s, many companies began operating in most American states without necessarily having a license to do so. The activity quickly threatened to expose consumers to risks and regulators and lawmakers passed the PASPA 1992 first to curb the surge in remote sports betting operators. 

Even to this date, there are many gambling rings in the United States. It wasn't until 2006 that the U.S. Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIEGA) and effectively suspended a number of multi-million poker and casino operators. 

Among them were PokerStars, PartyPoker, Full Tilt Poker, and others. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prohibited companies to operate any form of online gambling product. However, in the early 2010s, Nevada and Delaware secured online gambling licenses, and although it has been slow-going, these states are now capable to cater to online players of all backgrounds. 

The latest development of a federal level was the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel Opinion to extend the Wire Act to cover cross-state gambling, which now threatens lucrative online gambling businesses such as poker and lotteries. The Wire Act Opinion of 2019/2020 has been stopped in its tracks with the U.S. Congress publicly stating its opposition to any legal fees that lawmakers might incur in trying to push legislation that doesn't seem to have constitutional grounds. 

What's Next for Online US Gambling? 

While 2020 has proven turbulent for the U.S. brick-and-mortar casino industry, the outlook for the online gambling sector looks promising. The over-reliance on physical gaming venues has become evident and lawmakers will certainly seek to regulate the online gaming sectors quicker than before. 

That will most likely continue at the familiar place of development, with wagering taking precedence. Yet, in the sports betting bills to follow, many lawmakers who remember 2020 will ask themselves if it wouldn't be a good idea to also introduce language that opens the floodgates for other activities, such as online poker and casino. 

The Best Online Gambling Apps in the US 

The patchwork of legal online gambling businesses in the United States is colorful, but if you look closely, most states legislators and regulators have chosen to work with established gambling partners. 

The two companies that first entered the market for online gambling products were FanDuel and DraftKings and they have quickly adapted to consumer tastes developing some of the best sports betting gambling apps for US consumers. Both FanDuel and DraftKings started as operators of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) products, but gradually transitioned to other verticals. 

Next, there has been a surge in local companies looking to establish their footprint on the market. BetMGM and theScore, PointsBet, and BetAmerica is some of the domestic operators to have successfully established a footprint in sports betting and online casinos to an extent. 

Meanwhile, a number of overseas companies, including Unibet, William Hill, and Betfred have arrived in the United States and set up operations in all three main sectors. They all offer a quality gambling product in the form of apps, covering all domestic events, and offering a neat functionality. 

It's important to note that while wagering and casino apps are available in most states, some of these apps may only be used if you are physically present in a brick-and-mortar casino or racebook. 

So, in a way, you can still use the online casino digital skin, but you will be restricted geographically. The good news is that most operators and lawmakers have seen the downside of this and they are now a little more open to geolocation software that allows casinos to restrict players who are not physically in the state where a casino has been licensed. 

Are Online Casinos Better in the US? 

The United States has the world's most developed casino industry in the world. Each state has a casino and many hosts between 2 and 10 properties often worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This creates construction jobs and it also secures permanent jobs for people in the regions where casinos are based. 

One objection against online casinos has been that there may be a drop in the available jobs if all states shift to online casinos or don't limit iGaming in some form. Online casinos have argued that they are willing to contribute more to the state's coffers, but they won't need to hire the same amount of staff nor pay social securities to as many people or guarantee long-term stability. 

The debate is still ongoing and even though online casinos are clearly a logical step in the development of the US gambling industry, they will have to undergo some changes as well. 

To create our database of American casinos online, we have created a reliable reviewing service looking into the best venues. Our research methodology allows us to consider everything offered by a casino, from the licensing agreement it has in place to how well it serves its players. An American casino will inevitably offer players a selection of time-tested products and games specifically appealing to players’ tastes and is obliged to carry a license and meet specific state laws to be endorsed.

Specific casinos may cater to American players and still operate under a foreign license, such as the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (Canada) or Government of Curacao.



What states allow online casino gambling in the United States?

Presently, there are four states that allow online casino gambling in the USA. These are New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada (Pokeer only), and Pennsylvania.

Are my gambling winnings taxable?

Yes. Every win you make at a casino needs to be registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s the responsibility of patrons to submit this information to the tax office

Does this mean casinos report my winnings to the IRS?

No. While you need to submit your winnings to the tax office, there is no obligation on the part of casinos to report this information for you.

Do I need to verify my identity when playing at an American online casino?

Yes. Before you can play at any online casino in the United States, you will need to verify your identity.

What is the legal age to play at an online casino?

21. This may be subject to state laws, but the general gambling age in the United States is set as 21.

Are there any casino fees I need to know about?

There might be. Some casinos could charge you a bit for certain withdrawals depending on the method. You will need to double-check with the casino you are playing at.

Is it safe to play at online casinos in the US?

Yes. All online casinos that have been licensed in the United States are completely safe and reliable to play at.
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