Gambling Illegal In What States

  
  1. Why Is Online Gambling Illegal
  2. Gambling Illegal In What States Recreational
  3. Gambling Illegal In What States Allow

Experienced players know how hard it is to find a reliable online casino that would serve U.S. Citizens and the same refers to bitcoin gambling sites. Since that time, state law related to gambling has continued to evolve. Some US states have gone so far as to outlaw online gambling outright. The states of New Jersey and Nevada, for example, have declared that all non-state regulated online gambling is illegal. The other anti-online gaming states outlaw Internet betting in all forms.

Gambling Law: An Overview

Gambling, though widespread in the United States, is subject to legislation at both the state and federal level that bans it from certain areas, limits the means and types of gambling, and otherwise regulates the activity.

Congress has used its power under the Commerce Clause to regulate interstate gambling, international gambling, and relations between the United States and Native American territories. For example, it has passed laws prohibiting the unauthorized transportation of lottery tickets between states, outlawing sports betting with certain exceptions, and regulating the extent to which gambling may exist on Native American land.

Each state determines what kind of gambling it allows within its borders, where the gambling can be located, and who may gamble. Each state has enacted different laws pertaining to these topics. The states also have differing legal gambling ages, with some states requiring the same minimum age for all types of gambling, while for others, it depends on the activity. For example, in New Jersey, an 18-year-old can buy a lottery ticket or bet on a horse race, but cannot enter a casino until age 21. Presumably, the age 21 restriction is due to the sale of alcohol in that location.

A standard strategy for avoiding laws that prohibit, constrain, or aggressively tax gambling is to locate the activity just outside the jurisdiction that enforces them, in a more 'gambling friendly' legal environment. Gambling establishments often exist near state borders and on ships that cruise outside territorial waters. Gambling activity has also exploded in recent years in Native American territory. Internet-based gambling takes this strategy and extends it to a new level of penetration, for it threatens to bring gambling directly into homes and businesses in localities where a physical gambling establishment could not conduct the same activity.

Internet Gambling

Federal Regulation

In the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was growing rapidly in popularity, online gambling appeared to represent an end-run around government control and prohibition. A site operator needed only to establish the business in a friendly offshore jurisdiction such as the Bahamas and begin taking bets. Anyone with access to a web browser could find the site and place wagers by credit card. Confronted with this blatant challenge to American policies, the Department of Justice and Congress explored the applicability of current law and the desirability of new regulation for online gambling.

Why Is Online Gambling Illegal

In exploring whether an offshore Internet gambling business taking bets from Americans violated federal law, attention was focused on the Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1084 (2000). The operator of a wagering business is at risk of being fined and imprisoned under the Wire Act if the operator knowingly uses a 'wire communication facility' to transmit information related to wagering on 'any sporting event or contest.' 18 U.S.C. § 1084(a). An exception exists if that act is legal in both the source and destination locations of the transmission. § 1084(b). The Wire Act’s definition of “wire communication facility” appears to embrace the nation's entire telecommunications infrastructure, and therefore probably applies to online gambling. See § 1081.

The Department of Justice maintains that, under the Wire Act, all Internet gambling by bettors in the United States is illegal. U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on Establishing Consistent Enforcement Policies in the Context of Online Wagers, 110th Cong., Nov. 14, 2007 (testimony of Catherine Hanaway, U.S. Attorney (E.D. Mo.), Dept. of Justice). The Fifth Circuit disagreed, ruling that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting, not other types of gambling. In re MasterCard Int’l Inc., 313 F.3d 257 (5th Cir. 2002).

In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which made it illegal for wagering businesses to knowingly accept payment in connection with unlawful Internet gambling (though it does not itself make Internet gambling illegal). 109 Pub. L. 109-347, Title VIII (Oct. 13, 2006) (codified at 31 U.S.C. §§ 5301, 5361–67). It also authorizes the Federal Reserve System to create regulations that prohibit financial transaction providers (banks, credit card companies, etc.) from accepting those payments. See 31 U.S.C. § 5363(4). This Act, along with threats of prosecution under the Wire Act from the Department of Justice, has caused several Internet gambling businesses to withdraw from the U.S. market.

In response, House Representatives introduced multiple bills in 2007 to soften federal Internet gambling law. If passed, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act and the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act would license, regulate, and tax Internet gambling businesses rather than prohibit them from taking bets from the United States. Alternatively, the Skill Game Protection Act would clarify the Wire Act to exempt certain games such as poker and chess.

State Regulation

In addition to federal measures, some states have enacted legislation to prohibit some types of Internet gambling. In 2006, Washington State amended its Code to make knowingly transmitting or receiving gambling information over the Internet a felony. See Wash. Rev. Code § 9.46.240 (2006). Other states with similar prohibitions have made it a misdemeanor instead. See e.g., 720 ILCS 5/28-1 (2007).

States have not been particularly active in enforcing these laws, possibly due to a conflict with the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine. That doctrine theorizes that state law applying to commerce outside the state’s borders is unconstitutional because that power lies with federal, not state, government. In particular, federal preemption has obstructed states’ attempts to regulate gambling activity on Indian reservations within state borders. See Missouri ex rel. Nixon v. Coeur D’Alene Tribe, 164 F.3d 1102 (8th Cir. 1999). The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. § 29 (2000), governs gambling activity on Indian reservations, but the extent to which it and other federal gambling laws preempt state action in the Internet arena is uncertain.

menu of sources

Federal Material

U.S. Constitution and Federal Statutes

  • U.S. Code: Title 15, Chapter 24: Transportation of Gambling Devices
  • U.S. Code: Title 15, Chapter 57, Interstate Horseracing
  • U.S. Code: Title 18, Chapter 50: Gambling
  • U.S. Code: Title 18, Chapter 61: Lotteries
  • 18 U.S.C. §1953 (Interstate Transportation of Wagering Paraphernalia Act)
  • 18 U.S.C. §1955 (Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1970)
  • 25 U.S.C. §§2701-2721 (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act)
  • U.S. Code: Title 28, Chapter 178: Professional and Amateur Sports Protection
  • Code of Federal Regulations: Title 25, Chapter 3: National Indian Gaming Commission, Department of the Interior
  • Proposed Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1997 (not passed)

Federal Judicial Decisions

  • Greater New Orleans Broadcasting Association, Inc. v. United States, 527 U.S. 173 (1999)
  • Ratzlaf v. United States, 510 U.S. 135 (1994)
  • Chickasaw Nation v. United States, 534 U.S. 84 (1999)

State Material

Other References

  • '14 Charged in Internet Betting' (Washington Post, March 5, 1998)
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We've compiled this legal online betting reference to provide accurate and up-to-date information on the legal online gambling status and gaming options available within each American state. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive state-by-state US gambling guide which will give players all the information they need to make smart decisions about how and where to bet online.

This state-specific data will include the state laws governing Internet gambling opportunities in all relevant markets, including online casinos, online poker, and online sports betting.

Each state approaches the legalization of online gambling differently, so it's necessary to detail state-licensed options as well as legal international gambling opportunities. We also address some of the most commonly asked questions about gambling in each state and provide various helpful resources. Such information is covered in greater detail at each specific state page linked below.

Is Online Gambling Legal In My State?

It definitely might be! At this moment, at least 25 US states have legalized and regulated online gambling in some form. However, most states have limited their legalization efforts to sports betting.

Nevertheless, we expect that the majority of these states will also embrace legal online poker games and legal online casino games eventually. How to scratch off lottery tickets. Of course, if they don't, you can still wager legally and safely using online overseas operators.

Online Poker & Casino

  • Delaware - Online Poker, Online Casinos
  • Michigan - Online Poker (launch TBA), Online Casinos
  • Nevada - Online Poker
  • New Jersey - Online Poker, Online Casinos
  • Pennsylvania - Online Poker, Online Casinos
  • West Virginia - Online Poker, Online Casinos

Online Sports Betting

  • Arkansas*
  • Colorado
  • Delaware***
  • Louisiana**
  • Maryland**
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi*
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico*
  • New York*
  • North Carolina**
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota**
  • Washington**
  • Washington DC
  • West Virginia

*Retail only, online TBA

**Legalized but pending launch

***Retail available, online pending launch

To date, TN is the only US state that has domestic sportsbooks available exclusively online, as there are no provisions in Tennessee sports betting laws to allow for retail brick-and-mortar gambling locations.

Online Lottery

  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia

Is Licensed Offshore Gambling Legal In My State?

While the above states offer regulated online gambling, residents in most of them still have the option to use licensed offshore betting sites. Nearly all US state residents, except those from Washington or Connecticut, can legally access licensed offshore online gambling platforms to play online casino games, enter online poker tournaments, and bet on sports.

This is because no local gambling laws in any of the other 48 states specifically prohibit betting real money with an international operator.

Additionally, there are no federal laws that bar the activity, as all US betting mandates apply only to domestic sportsbooks (i.e. the Wire Act) and US-based financial institutions (i.e. the UIGEA), not to players themselves.

What Is The Minimum Online Gambling Age in the US?

There is no single minimum gambling age in the US, as these are set and regulated by each individual state. The minimum age within each state is affected by various factors such as betting markets, casino game types, venue amenities, and more.

Most states set all their gambling age minimums to 21 years of age, though a few have sports betting options and other kinds of Class II style gambling opportunities for 18+ players.

That said, licensed international online gambling sites offering casino games, poker rooms, and sports betting amusements almost always accept USA players at just 18 and up. These reputable sites also award their members bigger bonuses and perks, more varied electronic casino game options, and better sports betting odds.

U.S. States Where You Can Legally Gamble At 18 And Up

Below, you can learn more about the minimum legal online gambling age by state:

AL Offshore Yes:18IL Offshore Yes:18NE Offshore Yes:18SD Offshore Yes:18
AK Offshore Yes:18IN Offshore Yes:18NV Offshore Yes:18SC Offshore Yes:18
AZ Offshore Yes:18KS Offshore Yes:18NH Offshore Yes:18TN Offshore Yes:18
AR Offshore Yes:18KY Offshore Yes:18NJ Offshore NoTX Offshore Yes:18
CA Offshore Yes:18LA Offshore Yes:18NM Offshore Yes:18UT Offshore Yes:18
CO Offshore Yes:18ME Offshore Yes:18NY Offshore Yes:18VT Offshore Yes:18
CT Offshore NoMD Offshore Yes:18ND Offshore Yes:18VA Offshore Yes:18
DE Offshore Yes:18MA Offshore Yes:18NC Offshore Yes:18WA Offshore No
FL Offshore Yes:18MI Offshore Yes:18OH Offshore Yes:18WV Offshore Yes:18
GA Offshore Yes:18MN Offshore Yes:18OK Offshore Yes:18WI Offshore Yes:18
HI Offshore Yes:18MS Offshore Yes:18OR Offshore Yes:18WY Offshore Yes:18
ID Offshore Yes:18MO Offshore Yes:18PA Offshore Yes:18
IA Offshore Yes:18MT Offshore Yes:18RI Offshore Yes:18

Online Gambling Laws in The United States

Gambling laws can be a complex topic these days, as there a pair of prominent US federal gambling laws to account for, and there are several local gambling laws in every single state.

Gambling Illegal In What States Recreational

The reason for this is that the US DOJ has declared that each state has the authority to determine its own destiny concerning both land-based and online gambling. This is especially true now that PASPA (1992-2018) has finally been overturned.

Since 2018's PASPA overturn, a large number of US states have legalized various forms of online gambling (mostly sports betting) within their borders. Many other states are currently in discussions to do the same.

Nevertheless, even if you live in a state without legal local gambling options, you still have them. US players outside of WA and CT are permitted access to multiple licensed, certified, and regulated online gambling sites hosted outside of the United States. This is a nice alternative allowing those players aged 18 and up to enjoy real online gambling while their states get their ducks in a row.

Gambling Illegal In What States

States With Pending Online Gambling Legislation

  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Virginia

US States That Offer Active Domestic Sportsbooks

  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington DC
  • West Virginia

US States With Legal Sports Betting Pending Launch

Gambling Illegal In What States Allow

  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Washington