USA Online Blackjack

USA blackjack is different in some ways from the game in
other countries, but in other ways, it’s exactly the same. One
of the aspects of blackjack in the United States is its
legality. Since there are 50 different states, each with its own
laws regarding gambling, the legal status of the game is a
patchwork quilt.

That patchwork quilt becomes even more elaborate when you
start thinking about the differences in laws related to playing
for real money online. Some states have strict laws forbidding
blackjack online for real money, some have ambiguous or
non-existent laws related to the Internet game, while still
others have detailed, legal, regulated online blackjack games

This page provides a broad overview of the issues related to
how the game is played in the United States versus other
countries. (Yes, the rules vary—even from one coast to the
other, but also in contrast to other countries.)

We also offer insights into an important question:

Is online blackjack legal in the USA?

We provide a detailed answer that looks at both state and
federal laws that apply. We think it’s the most comprehensive
coverage of the subject on the Internet.

Finally, we offer information about traditional blackjack as
it’s being played in traditional casinos throughout the country.
Some states have no casinos offering blackjack, while others
have more than you can shake a stick at. We cover all the states
in this section.

Traditional Rules in the US versus Other Countries

Specific United States blackjack rules are decided by the
casino in accordance with local state laws regulating the
casinos. You could easily find dozens of different sets of rules
throughout the country, but many of these rules are consistent
from state to state and casino to casino.

Almost all blackjack games have some rules in common,
regardless of whether the game is being played in the United
States, Europe, or elsewhere. Here are some examples.

  • The target number is almost always 21
  • A hand with a total of 22 or higher is a “bust” (a losing hand).
  • Players always start with 2 cards
  • They have the same options:
    • Hit
    • Stand
    • Double Down
    • Split
    • Surrender

The variations have to do with the details. The dealer, for
example, has to play her hand according to a prescribed
strategy. She doesn’t get to make judgment calls based on the
information she has available to her. In some games, she’s
required to hit on a soft 17, while in others, she’s required to

The number of decks in play also varies from casino to
casino. Surrender is sometimes not allowed. Splitting is almost
always allowed, but different casinos have different rules about
whether you can resplit your new hand if it turns out to also be
a pair.

The big rules difference between United States blackjack and
European blackjack is the no hole card rule.

In the USA, the dealer checks her hole card for a blackjack
before the players make their decisions. If the dealer has a
blackjack, the players don’t have an opportunity to double down
or split their hands. They’ve already lost their bet (unless
there was a push).

But in European games, the dealer doesn’t check her hole card
until after the players have made their decisions. This means
that if the dealer is showing an ace or a 10 as her up card, you
should never split or double down. There’s too great a
likelihood that the dealer will have a blackjack, meaning you’ve
put more money into play on a hand that’s almost bound to lose
or push.

Also, while not all United States casinos offer surrender, NO
European casinos offer this option. It’s a minor detail, but
it’s still worth pointing out.

Also, in the United States, the rules for doubling down vary
from casino to casino. But it’s not uncommon for a casino to
allow a player to double down on any 2 cards. But that’s unheard
of in European blackjack games. Almost without exception, in
European casinos, the only totals you can double down on are 9,
10, or 11.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas offers some of the widest variations in rules of
any city in the country. You can just as easily find a single
deck blackjack game there as one dealt from 8 decks out of a
shoe. You can find casinos offering blackjack games where you
can double down on any total or casinos where you’re only
allowed to double down on 10 or 11. You can find casinos which
offer the surrender option and casinos which don’t.

One thing to keep in mind is that any time the casino
implements a rule that’s beneficial to the player, there’s
almost always another rules variation which increases the house
edge. Some of these rules variations are more dramatic than
others. An extreme example would be a casino which decides to
offer a single deck blackjack game, which has an extremely low
house edge (around 0.17%), but then also decides that a natural
only pays out at 6 to 5 instead of 3 to 2. This change adds 1.4%
to the casino’s house edge.

You’ll even occasionally find Las Vegas blackjack games where
a blackjack only pays even money. (This is especially true in
video blackjack games found on the casino floor.) In that event,
the house edge increases by over 2%.

Our advice is to avoid all blackjack games which don’t offer
at least the traditional 3 to 2 payout for blackjack. Almost no
combination of rules variations makes up for the huge chuck of
the percentage that’s lost by this change in rules.

Atlantic City

Atlantic City has some major differences regarding how
blackjack is played when compared to Las Vegas. Some of this is
because of laws related to counting cards. In Las Vegas, it’s
perfectly legal and acceptable for a casino to refuse a customer
if she’s suspected of counting cards.

But a lawsuit in New Jersey made it effectively illegal for
Atlantic City casinos to bar card counters. The court’s decision
is based on the premise that counting cards isn’t really
cheating, as it’s just a matter of thinking about the game and
the cards while you’re playing.

And how could thinking about the game you’re playing be
considered cheating?

But the easiest way to thwart attempts at counting cards in
blackjack is to increase the number of decks in play. You’ll
find plenty of 8 deck games being dealt from shoes and automatic
shufflers in Las Vegas, sure, but in Atlantic City, that’s all
you’ll find. You won’t see single deck blackjack games there at

Online Blackjack for United States Player

The game of blackjack as played online for real money is
another interesting topic for United States players. We
discussed in the introduction of this page how the legal
landscape for online gambling in the USA is best described as a
patchwork quilt of laws that vary from state to state. Below we
look at some specific laws, starting at the federal level and
working our way down to the state level.

The Wire Act

For years, the Department of Justice maintained that any kind
of gambling activity on the Internet was, in fact, prohibited by
the Wire Act. That opinion has changed in recent years, and the
best legal interpretation now seems to be that the Wire Act only
applies to betting on sports. Casino games would not follow
under the purview of this piece of legislation. The Supreme
Court has yet to hear a case related to online casino games and
the Wire Act, so in that sense, the jury’s still out.

The full name for this law is “The Interstate Wire Act of
1961”. It was passed when Robert Kennedy was the attorney
general, and its aim was to end organized crime.

Enforcement of this law has always focused on the individuals
running the betting enterprise, not the players placing the
bets. Until the Internet, this law mainly made it illegal to be
a bookmaker, but it hasn’t done much to end the practice.


“UIGEA” is an acronym for “Unlawful Internet Gambling
Enforcement Act of 2006”, which is a law that was tacked onto
the Safe Ports Act at the last minute. In spite of its
scary-sounding name, UIGEA does not outlaw gambling. It does,
however, make it a federal crime to process funds for the
purposes of “illegal gambling”.

How does this apply to online blackjack?

Since many (if not most) states have laws prohibiting at
least some form of Internet gambling, this law makes it a crime
in those states to process those transactions. As a result, it’s
hard for an American to transfer funds to and from an online
casino. Sometimes credit card transactions get through, but it’s
become increasingly hard over the years to get your money to and
from a casino.

This law, at least in the opinion of the writers of this
page, does not make it illegal for an individual to use a credit
to make a deposit at an online casino for the purposes of
playing blackjack. It does, however, make it illegal for the
processor to actually process that transaction.

Legal US Blackjack

Since the passage of UIGEA in 2006, 3 states have legalized
online gambling:

  1. Delaware
  2. New Jersey
  3. Nevada

In each of these states, land-based casinos are allowed to
operate an Internet site where players can legally make wagers
on games of chance (like blackjack, for example). This requires
a specific license, which is expensive, and it also involves
significant marketing expenses.

The most important thing to remember is that wagering can’t
take place across state lines. If you want to play blackjack at
an online casino in New Jersey, you have to do some while being
physically located in the state. You can’t even access the games
across state lines.

Traditional Land Based Blackjack Casinos in the US

Of course, the largest and most popular gambling destinations
have casinos spreading blackjack constantly. You’ll find these
in the towns you associate with gambling—Las Vegas, Reno, and
Atlantic City.

But other states also have blackjack available. This section
of the page takes a look at which states have traditional,
legal, land-based blackjack games.

States With Blackjack


Arizona Flag

Arizona is a surprisingly popular casino destination with
over 3 dozen casinos. Slot machines are, of course, the bulk of
the action in the state, but they do have blackjack in some
casinos in Arizona.

Most of the action takes place in the cities of Phoenix,
Scottsdale, and Tucson. The Desert Diamond Casino offers some of
the best odds in the state with their 3 and 6 deck games. Those
games have a $25 minimum and a $500 maximum bet. The lowest
stakes games to be found anywhere in the state are played for $5
per hand.


Arkansas Flag

You’ll only find 2 casinos in the entire state, and you won’t
find AN Y traditional blackjack games in either of them. But
they do offer electronic blackjack. We don’t recommend
electronic blackjack for various reasons, but the main one is
that they usually offer a reduced payout (often even odds) on a
natural, which makes the game FAR less attractive.


California Flag

You’ll find plenty of casinos and gambling in the state of
California. Blackjack is available at many of the 160+ casinos
in the state, too. Poker is also very popular in California.

California used to be one of the states that charged 50 cents
or a dollar per hand for their blackjack games, which made them
a pretty bad bet mathematically. (Oklahoma casinos still do
this, by the way.) But a couple of years ago, California changed
their minds about that troubling aspect of play.

The Barona in San Diego offers excellent game rules and odds.


Colorado Flag

Most of the casino gambling in Colorado is for relatively low
stakes, but they do have over 40 casinos in the state, many of
which do offer blackjack games. Be careful of casinos offering 6
to 5 payouts on a natural in this state. It’s common here, but
the effect it has on the player’s odds of winning is


Connecticut Flag

Blackjack is popular in Connecticut and available at many of
the casinos there. Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun are the 2 most
popular casinos for blackjack players in Connecticut.

The Mohegan Sun has games where the dealer stands on soft 17
and games where the dealer hits a soft 17. The better of those 2
versions is where the dealer has to stand on a soft 17.


Delaware Flag

You’ll only find 3 casinos in the state, Delaware Park and
Casino, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway &
Casino. They do offer blackjack games in Delaware casinos. Most
people interested in the game spend their time at Delaware Park
and Casino.


Florida Flag

Almost all the casino gambling you’ll find in Florida takes
place on cruise ships, but they do offer blackjack games on
these cruise ships.


Georgia Flag

No one will ever accuse Georgia of being a popular casino
gambling destination, but they do have a single casino cruise
operating there. And you will find blackjack games on the
Emerald Princess II Casino Cruise (as it’s called).


Idaho Flag

Gamblers only have 16 casinos to choose from in Idaho, and
the bulk of the gambling there is made up of slot machines. They
do offer electronic blackjack, though. We’ll repeat our warning
about avoiding electronic blackjack again, though—the odds are
usually lousy.


Illinois Flag

17 casinos operate in Illinois, and some of them do have
blackjack. They generally don’t offer very good rules, though,
and the house edge is higher than you’ll see in many states. One
thing you’ll see a lot of in Illinois casinos is 6/5 blackjack,
which offers lousy odds to players.


Indiana Flag

Blackjack players will be happy to know that Indiana has 13
casinos, but many of them do offer blackjack games.


Iowa Flag

One of the most popular gambling destinations in the Midwest,
especially for people from Nebraska, Iowa is home to 2 dozen
casinos, most of which offer blackjack. The games there are
nothing special, rules-wise, but the other patrons and the
dealers are known for being friendly and pleasant.


Kansas Flag

The state is home to 9 casinos, many of which do offer
blackjack games.


Louisiana Flag

The state has several nice casinos and casino hotels, and
blackjack is commonly played at them.


Maine Flag

Most people don’t think of Maine as a gambling or casino
destination, but the state does have 5 casinos in operation, and
you can find blackjack games in them.


Maryland Flag

The gambling games in Maryland consists almost entirely of
machine based games (mostly slots). Among those, you’ll find
electronic blackjack available. Maryland has no casinos offering
traditional dealer-dealt blackjack games, though.


Massachusetts Flag

Casinos in Massachusetts are associated with the horseracing
industry there. They do offer blackjack games, though, so if
you’re not having any luck betting on the ponies, you can get
some more money into action playing 21 there. One aspect of
gambling in Massachusetts casinos that might appeal to a certain
breed of players—the properties are all smoke-free.


Michigan Flag

Another state that we don’t normally think of as a gambling
destination, Michigan actually has almost 3 dozen casinos in
operation, and blackjack is available there. Many casinos there
use continuous shuffling machines, but you can also find games
being dealt from a shoe.


Minnesota Flag

Almost 2 dozen casinos call Minnesota home, and most (if not
all) of them offer blackjack games. Some of the games there are
the best in the Midwest, because they have decent penetration
and generous rules.


Missouri Flag

The state has a surprisingly vibrant gambling scene, with 13
casinos, many of which do offer blackjack games. Missouri has
this in common with New Jersey—it’s illegal to ban a card
counter from the casinos there for counting cards. The casinos
do have other countermeasures in place to prevent counters from
getting an edge, though. (This is also true in Atlantic City,
New Jersey.)


Montana Flag

An alphabetical list of the casinos in Montana begins with
“Allard’s General Store”. Luckily, that’s not indicative of the
entire gambling scene there, as there are some robust casino
properties which do offer blackjack in Montana. The game was
legalized in the state in 2011.


Nevada Flag

Of course there’s blackjack in Nevada. The state is home to
Las Vegas and to Reno, after all. We’ll publish an entire page
about blackjack conditions in specific cities and throughout the
state there.

New Jersey

New Jersey Flag

Of course there’s blackjack in New Jersey, too. After all,
the state is home to Atlantic City, which is one of the
country’s premier gambling destinations. One interesting aspect
to the game as it’s played in Atlantic City—it’s illegal for the
casinos to ban card counters, so they use other countermeasures
against counting. For example, most (if not all) games are dealt
from a continuous shuffling machine. Even in games which aren’t,
you can count on there being a lot of decks in the shoe.

New Mexico

New Mexico Flag

The state has over 2 dozen gambling casinos available, and
there is blackjack available at some of these New Mexico
casinos. This is one of those states where all the casinos are
owned by a Native American tribe.

New York

New York Flag

A lot of the casinos in New York are tied to racetracks, but
they have some more traditional casinos available there, too.
Blackjack players can definitely find a game in New York.

North Carolina

North Carolina Flag

You won’t find a lot of casinos in North Carolina—there are
only 6 of them in the entire state. But they do offer video
blackjack as well as video game versions of other traditional
gambling games. These are inferior to actual table games dealt
by real people, but that’s all they have in North Carolina. It’s
a tightly-regulated gambling market.

North Dakota

North Dakota Flag

We were surprised at how many casinos are available in North
Dakota (32). They do have blackjack in North Dakota. The rules
are surprisingly good. Many casinos offer games dealt from only
4 decks, and they offer penetration of up to 75%, which is
excellent for counters.


Ohio Flag

Many, but not all, of the casinos in Ohio are tied into the
horse racing industry. But they do offer blackjack at some of
them. Table limits are generally low compared with some other
states. One aspect of the games there that is a little different
than most states is the use of preshuffled stacks of cards.


Oklahoma Flag

All of the casinos in Oklahoma are owned by Native American
tribes, but many of them do offer blackjack. Unfortunately, all
the blackjack games there charge players a 50 cent or 1 dollar
ante on top of their bet, making the house edge much higher than
it needs to be. They also shuffle pretty often, especially if
they detect even a hint of card counting.


Oregon Flag

Yes, Oregon casinos do offer blackjack games. We’ve seen
reports that Chinook Winds offers a single deck game. You might
be able to find additional single deck games in the state if you


Pennsylvania Flag

The state is a vibrant gambling destination with over 2 dozen
casinos and over 30,000 slot machines. They also have over 1000
table games spread throughout the casinos there, some of which
are blackjack. We’ve seen some online gambling writers refer to
the games in Pennsylvania as the best in the country,
rules-wise. The house edge on many of the games being spread
there, if you’re using perfect basic strategy, is between 0.3%
and 0.4%.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Flag

Even though it’s the smallest state in the country, Rhode
Island does have casinos, both of which offer blackjack. The
casinos are Newport Grand Casino and Twin River Casino. The
games here are comparable to the games available in Connecticut,

South Carolina

South Carolina Flag

The state is home to 2 casino cruises, both of which offer
blackjack. The minimum bets on blackjack are $5 at these
casinos, but they are surprisingly generous with high rollers,
offering a table maximum of $1500 in some instances.

South Dakota

South Dakota

The state hosts quite a few casinos, but only a few of them
offer blackjack.


Texas Flag

The state is huge, and there are only a couple of true
casinos in the entire state. One is a cruise ship out of Port
Aransas, and the other is the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in
Eagle Pass. Most people in Texas just drive to Oklahoma or
Louisiana to play blackjack. The state is also home to quite a
few racetracks now.


Washington Flag

The state is home to over 100 casinos of all sizes. Many of
them do offer blackjack games, too. They are not known for
having generous rules, though—the game conditions are generally
poor, especially from a house edge perspective.

West Virginia

West Virginia

The state has a handful of casinos (fewer than 10). Some of
them are more bingo halls than casinos, but some of them do
offer traditional gambling games like blackjack. They do not
offer single deck blackjack games at any of the casinos in the
state, but you can find 6 deck games dealt from a shoe at just
about any of the casinos offering the game.


Wisconsin Flag

The state is home to a couple of dozen casinos, some of which
offer blackjack. (Some of them are just big bingo halls,


Wyoming Flag

You’ll find 18 casinos in the state, but many of them are
just bingo halls. You can find the rare blackjack game here, but
it’s not common.

States Without Blackjack


Alabama Flag

You can find some casinos in Alabama, but none of them offer
blackjack. Gambling games there are limited to bingo, dog races,
and slot machines.


Alaska Flag

The only gambling available in Alaska casinos consists of
bingo and pull tab machines. None of the casinos in Alaska offer


Hawaii Flag

You won’t find any casinos or blackjack in Hawaii at all.
It’s a cultural thing. They just don’t go in for gambling in


Kentucky Flag

Most of the gambling in Kentucky is focused on horseracing.
Casino directories list 8 casinos in the state, but they don’t
really offer what most of us would consider casino games
(including blackjack.)


Nebraska Flag

Gambling in Nebraska is largely restricted to horse betting
and electronic slot machines. Most Nebraska residents who want
to play blackjack travel to the casinos in Iowa.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Flag

Another state without blackjack, New Hampshire limits their
residents’ gambling activities (at least within the state) to
horse betting.


Tennessee Flag

Gamblers in Tennessee are forced to visit neighboring states
to get into action. The state has no casinos and no blackjack


Utah Flag

You’re lucky to be able to find a cup of coffee in Utah, much
less a casino where you can play blackjack. We think they have a
bingo hall there if you’re into that sort of thing.


Vermont Flag

It’s a beautiful state, but they have little or no interest
in allowing casinos or gambling there. You’ll find no blackjack
in Vermont unless you play at someone’s kitchen table.


Virginia Flag

You’ve heard the expression, “Virginia is for lovers.”? It’s
not “Virginia is for blackjack players.” You’ll find no casinos
or blackjack in the entire state.