The US online gambling industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade, with an increasing number of states passing legislation to legalize and regulate remote wagering in its various forms. Remote gambling activities are generally grouped into three main categories, namely online sports wagering, online poker, and online casino games.
Each state has a unique stance on what is legal and what is not since gambling is regulated both on federal and state levels. Some states allow for legal sports betting only, while others have expanded their range of legal gambling products to include online casinos and online poker. In essence, what is legal in one state, may be illegal in another.
The focus of today’s article falls specifically on online casino games and where you can play them legally in the US. Also included in the publication is a complete breakdown of the legal forms of remote gambling in each state, along with information about several major pieces of gambling legislation that have helped shape the current landscape in the country.
Gambling Legislation in the US
Remote gambling in the US is regulated by an intricate network of federal and state laws that constantly interact with each other. Many gamblers find it difficult to navigate this complex legislative landscape, failing to distinguish legal from illegal gambling activities.
Federal Gambling Legislation
What Forms of Gambling Are Legal and Where?
Most states have already started to regulate remote gambling in one form or another in an attempt to raise additional revenue and prevent the leakage of taxable money. Retail and online sports betting are now legal in many parts of the country. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for online casino games and poker which remain unregulated in most states for the time being.
The table below gives you a state-by-state breakdown of the legal online gambling activities on US soil. Keep in mind the regulatory climate in the US is constantly undergoing changes, however. Certain states may expand their range of legal betting options in the future.
|State*||Online Casinos||Online Sportsbooks||Online Poker|
|Massachusetts||N/A||Pending Launch in 2023||N/A|
|Washington||N/A||Allowed on Tribal Reservations Only||N/A|
|Wisconsin||N/A||Allowed on the Oneida Nation Reservation||N/A|
*Only states that regulate at least one form of remote gambling have made the list.
Remote sports wagering is legal in Delaware but the state is yet to launch locally licensed online sportsbooks. Internet users based in the state only have the option to legally participate in daily fantasy sports contests for the time being.
States with Legal Online Casinos
In 2011, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) revisited the Federal Wire Act of 1961 and issued an official opinion stating that this outdated piece of legislation only applied to interstate sports wagering. The DOJ experienced a sudden change of heart and reversed its stance eight years later.
The legislation applies to all forms of gambling under the current interpretation. Nonetheless, the 2011 memorandum opened the door for several states to legalize online poker and other forms of remote gambling that are unrelated to sports.
STATES THAT ALLOW ONLINE GAMBLING
Delaware is a pioneer in this field as it became the first state to legalize online casino gaming and poker in 2012. Locals had access only to free online slots, table games, and poker during the initial stages of the launch. Real-money internet gambling arrived in the state two years later via the websites of the local landbased casinos in Dover, Delaware Park, and Harrington.
Residents have access to a variety of real-money games, including online slots, roulette, blackjack, and video poker. Local players can fund their online gaming accounts via credit and debit cards, bank transfers, and virtual wallets like PayPal. The remote gaming industry in the state is overseen by the Delaware Lottery Commission.
The Mitten is one of the new est members of the gradually expanding online casino faction in the US. The local remote gaming industry has grown by leaps and bounds after its 2021 launch, with residents facing a choice from a dozen or so casino apps.
Some of the major brands that operate on the local scene include big hitters like Caesars, BetMGM, WynnBET, BetRivers, FanDuel, and Stars Casino. Residents have access to a huge array of online slots, progressive jackpots, video poker, live dealer and randomly generated table games.
The gambling companies and software providers must obtain permission from the Michigan Gaming Control Board before they can legally service the local market. Both operators and players are subject to taxation in Michigan. The former must pay a 19% tax on their gross gaming revenue, while the latter have 4.25% of their winnings withheld for tax purposes.
Similarly to Michigan, Connecticut embraced legal remote gaming in 2021 with the passage of Public Act 21-23, legislation that authorized the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribal nations to operate a range of online casino games. The Mohegan tribe teamed up with FanDuel for its online gambling offering, while the Mashantucket Pequot nation works in partnership with the rivals DraftKings.
Residents of the Nutmeg State can pick from a broad variety of casino games supplied by industry greats like IGT and NetEnt. Anyone can join the online action as long as they are physically located in Connecticut, meet the minimum age requirement (21), and are not on the state’s exclusion list. Speaking of which, locals can self-exclude for one to five years or permanently.
New Jersey has become synonymous with gambling, so much so that it is only fitting that the state is home to a developed and strictly regulated online gaming industry. There are plenty of legal betting opportunities locals can explore as approximately a dozen online operators call the Garden State their home. Among those are major names in the industry like Harrah’s, Bally’s, and the Golden Nugget.
The local regulations require licensed operators to implement geolocation software to detect the exact whereabouts of each customer. Similarly to other states, players must be physically located within the boundaries of New Jersey to register and gamble via licensed casino apps. Locally licensed online operators are taxed at a 17.5% rate.
It took a long time for legal online gaming to arrive in Pennsylvania, but the Keystone State finally embraced it in 2019. Over a dozen online casinos are currently operational here under the strict oversight of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The casinos cater to local internet gamblers with a variety of quality products, ranging from the hottest online slots to table classics like roulette, baccarat, and blackjack.
Apart from standard withdrawal options like cards, electronic checks, and bank wire transfers, local players have the option to cash out their profits at one of the landbased partnering casinos that operate the gambling sites. Another thing to keep in mind is that gambling winnings are considered taxable income in Pennsylvania and as such, are taxed at a rate of 3.07%.
West Virginia ascended into the ranks of the iGaming states in March 2019 after the passage of the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act. The legislation allows each of the landbased gambling locations in the state to operate no more than three different mobile gaming skins. Licensed operators fall under the regulatory scope of the West Virginia Lottery Commission.
Some of the largest gambling companies in the country have struck deals with the local brick-and-mortar casinos, including major players in the industry like PokerStars, GVC Holdings, and DraftKings. Under the West Virginia legislation, players’ profits are not subject to state withholding taxes unless the winners refuse to provide proper identification, in which case a 6.5% tax rate is in place.
Further Online Gaming Expansion Is Possible
The availability of legal online gaming options remains limited in the country at the present moment, with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware, Michigan, and Connecticut being the only states to regulate remote casinos.
While not as prevalent as online sportsbooks, the iGaming segment is slowly but surely growing its footprint on US soil. More states are expected to follow suit in the near future, as Nevada, New York, Indiana, and Illinois are all making a push for the legalization of online gaming.