United States Online Gambling Laws

Internet gambling has become one of the biggest industries in the world. The
United State has a vast complex market of companies competing to gain customers
and have the best win opportunities available. This page is designed to give you
the information you need to know about the laws that govern these sites and how
these laws affect your ability to play.

The information on this site is for informational purposes only. We’re not
lawyers and don’t claim to be experts in gambling laws. We’re giving you an
overview of the federal and state laws that apply to online gambling so you can
be informed before you step into the world of online gambling.

The United States is famous for enacting laws for just about every single
industry and having these laws redacted, changed, and renewed several times over
the years. It’s important that you know the most up to date information if you
want to be a member of the ever growing world of online gambling.

The federal government isn’t the only governing body that’s able to make laws
in regards to the online gambling industry. Each state has its own laws that
allow, prohibit, or restrict gambling on land and online. Before you try to
start gambling online you need to make sure its legal to do so within the state
you live.

The laws in each state differ and can at times be confusing, as can those
from the federal government. Most of these laws are written by people who know
little to nothing about the industry which can cause problems with the
enforcement of the laws. The laws tend to be vague and leave too much room for
interpretation which can give judges and prosecutors the ability to go on
crusades based on their feelings on the subject.

As you go through this page you can familiarize yourself with a generous
overview of both state and federal laws. The overview includes possible
consequences of breaking these laws and where online gambling is allowed and
with what restriction. We hope this page gives you all the information you need
to successfully navigate the online gambling industry.

United States Online Gambling

Federal Laws

From the first emergence of online gambling those in the federal government
thought it necessary to enact laws that any company, whether land based or
digital, must follow. Some of the laws that affect the online industry were
enacted before the emergence of the online world, but these new gambling forms
still have to follow these laws. Below we’re going to give you an overview of
the laws that apply to the online gaming industry.

Wire Act of 1961

The first thing you may notice is the date on this law. Yes, it was passed
into law in 1961, which is well before the invention of the internet and even
the thought of online gambling. Even with this being the case, this law has been
used many times over the years to make rulings against online gambling.

Wire Act of 1961 was initially used to work with other antiracketeering laws such as the
Travel Act and others. The law was obviously not drawn up in regards to the
online gambling industry but because of the way it was written it still is
applicable in governing the industry.

The first purpose of the Wire Act was to help the states and territories of
the United States enforce their laws on gambling and bookmaking and to suppress
the gambling in organized events. The law has one section that allows it to be
used by law enforcement to apply to the newer industry of online gambling.

“Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses
a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign
commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or
wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire
communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a
result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or
wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years,
or both.”

In this section of the law when it says that anyone who places a wager or a
bet using wire communications allows for any law enforcement agency on either
the state or federal level to use this law against an online gambling site.
However in 2011, there was a change to the law that changed everything.

The legal opinion that was released by the Department of Justice in 2011
gives the states more authority in deciding how they wanted to handle the online
gambling industry. The opinion decriminalized certain forms of gambling that in
the past had been illegal. With this change the DOJ would no longer seek
criminal charges against those who play online versions of casino games such as
poker, slot games, bingo, and lottery options. Even with this change, online
sports betting was not included and remained illegal.

The change has not completely changed the world of online gambling. It
doesn’t change the fact that a company the provides online gambling options to
restrict its players by state if the state they live in has not legalized online
gambling then they cannot play.

It also hasn’t helped those states that have legalized online gambling to
operate without issue. Some of the other laws regarding online gambling still
create problems for those states that have legalized the industry.

In recent years there has been a push to re-enact the original Wire Act of
1961. This new bill is called the Restoration of America’s Wire Act and was
introduced to Congress in 2014 by Senator Lindsey Graham and Jason Chaffetz.
This bill is designed to restore the Wire Act to its original state where all
forms of online gambling would be illegal.

If RAWA was to pass and become law it would essentially bring to an end the
entire industry of online gambling. Since it would reestablish that most forms
of gambling would be illegal it would no longer matter if a state had legalized
it or not. The bill does have some exceptions, but many of the most popular
forms would no longer be available in the online gaming world.

Interstate Transportation of Wagering Paraphernalia Act

Another 1961 law that was passed by the US government with the intent to
close the gaps for the gambling industry came in the form of the
Transportation of Wagering Paraphernalia Act
. This act made it illegal to
transport any record, paraphernalia, ticket, certificate, and bill, slip token,
paper, writing, or any other device used, to be used in book making, or wagering
pools for sports betting.

This law, much like the Federal Wire Act, was enacted way before the time of
online betting but is still very much a part of the business. This law makes it
illegal to basically send anything over the internet, through the mail, or any
other means of transfer that can or will be used to make sports bets.

The language used in the writing of the act is so broad that with the
advancements in technology it can still be used as a means to put a stop to
online sports betting. Because words like paraphernalia, paper, and device are
used it’s up to the courts to determine if the method used falls under any of
these classifications. More than likely any wire transfer or online transaction
can and will be viewed under one of these categories

All of the laws we’ve just gone over can be found in their entirety on the
federal regulations web site. We’ve given you the summary of the laws with the
intent to inform you of laws that always take precedent over state law.
Regardless of how constitutional these laws may seem or not seem they’re still
currently in effect and must be obeyed unless you want to find yourself sitting
in federal prison.


The next law we want to talk about is the
Internet Gambling Act
. This law is different from the Wire Act and many
others because it doesn’t target the gamblers playing the games but the
companies that supply the games and companies that process the payments to and
from the online gaming site.

This law was able to pass both the house and the senate easily because it was
attached to other laws that were widely supported. If this hadn’t been the case
this law might not have been able to make it into law.

This law doesn’t prohibit players from playing the games. The law was drafted
with the intent to stop money laundering, fraud, and other financial crimes.

This law prohibits online gambling companies from accepting payments from
someone that violates federal or state laws. It regulates how payments are made
for online gambling transactions. This law basically makes it illegal for a
company to accept payment from banks or credit card companies. This causes
issues for not just the online companies but for the players as well.

When this law was signed into law it caused a mass exit from the US market of
gambling sites and payment processors. This law made it nearly impossible for US
players to find an online gambling site that would accept them and allow them to
play. This is still an issue with most brands being offshore companies that
won’t accept US players.

In the years since the passing of this law the market has stabilized and the
use of prepaid accounts, prepaid credit cards, and some digital wallet companies
have given US players the ability to start playing again.

One good thing that has come out of this law being passed is that the sites
that offer online gambling are safer and more reliable for the customers of the
site as long as they are operated within the United States. You must remember
that this law has no effect on offshore companies that accept US players so be
careful what site you choose to play on.

Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act

This laws basic purpose is to completely ban online sports betting. Known as the PASPA,
this law works with the Federal Wire Act to make it illegal for anyone in the
United States to place bets on sporting events like football, basketball, and
baseball via the internet, or any other wire transfer methods.

Some sporting events however are legal to bet on through the internet. Sports
like pari-mutuel horse racing and dog racing are some that are exempt from the

When the law was first voted in the U.S. government included a grace period
for states that had been allowing online sports betting to alter their sports
betting so that it could continue without violating the law. This grace period
was primarily for New Jersey, who in turn didn’t take advantage of this
opportunity and has since filed a law suit stating the law is inherently

Some states however do have sports lotteries which don’t fall under the
guidelines of the PASPA law and are still legal for online betting. Those states
include Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. The law also doesn’t prohibit US
residents from participating in sports betting with an offshore online casino.

Demand is growing to have this law repealed, but even if the law is repealed
the use of online means to place bets on sporting events would still be
considered illegal due to the Federal Wire Act. Repealing this bill would only
make it legal for sports betting in land based casinos.

Illegal Gambling Business Act

Illegal Gambling Business Act was
aimed at ending the involvement of organized crime in the gambling business.
This law states that any gambling operation that is in violation of state or
local law that has five or more people conducting its operation, and remains in
continuous operation for 30 days or makes more than $2,000 in revenue in a days’
time can be prosecuted.

This law doesn’t include the bettor as a person that can be found guilty
under this law, however anyone who works for the gambling business itself can
be. This means that anyone from the owner of the business down to the runners
can fall under this laws prevue.

This law was written with the intent to be extremely vague giving the
government the ability to bend the rules to enforce the law as they see fit. The
statement about continuous operation allows them to determine how regularly the
so called illegal activities are taking place. It also gives them the ability to
only have to prove the involvement of someone in the illegal operation and not
that they knew the activity involved five or more people or that the five
individuals were involved for the allotted 30 day time period.

State Laws

Each state in the United States has the right to pass and enforce its own
laws. These laws don’t take a higher level of legality than the Federal laws but
most federal laws do defer to the state’s laws to see if they’ve been violated
before the federal law is enforced.

Each state has the ability to prohibit its residents from engaging in any
form of online gambling. Some states allow only certain types of online gambling
while others have completely legalized the industry. We’ve gone through the
states one by one to determine what the laws are and how they can affect your
ability to place bets online. We provide this information for knowledge purposes
only and don’t intend for the information to be used for a legal purpose. We
aren’t lawyers so if you’re having a problem, make sure to get further advice
from a licensed lawyer.

To determine if an act of gambling is a violation to the state laws there are
certain factors used by states. They are the Dominant Factor Test and what
classifies social gambling. Then states must also determine whether the
violation falls under the law as a misdemeanor or a felony level crime and
whether the crime meets requirements to be distinguished as a simple crime or an
aggravated crime.

The Dominant Factor Test is applied to an activity to determine if it
violates state law. This test determines if a gambling activity is based on
chance. If it’s determined that chance outweighs actual skill, more than likely
this violates the state’s laws on gambling. Most states have determined that if
a game has an element of skill that is required to successfully play a game then
it doesn’t violate the law. Not all states use this test, but as you read you
can see which states do and which states don’t.

States also divide gambling up into different categories and usually have an
allowance for social gambling. Determining what social gambling is can be tricky
depending on the state. Generally social gambling is when all those involved in
the gambling are on equal footing. Basically the people working the game can’t
benefit from the game more than a player can.

We’ve also determined the levels of violations in each state so as you read
you can see what states you can play in and what states you can’t.

State Pacts and Developments

States that have legalized online gambling know that to be successful in the
industry that they must have a large pool of players. Since not all states have
regulations on this type of gambling and the legal system can at times be rather
grey when it comes to this industry states must be careful when accepting
players from other states.

Having a pact or other agreement with other states is a great way to legally
offer online gambling to residents from other states. This is becoming a new way
for states to work together to embrace this large industry in the United States.

In recent years more states have started working on legislation to regulate
the use of online casinos and we can only hope that if they decide to legalize
it then they’re willing to work together to make our online gambling industry as
successful as that of other countries.

US Friendly Online Casinos

As we’ve shown you, online gambling is part of a vast grey area in most
states which causes online casinos to become leery of allowing players from the
United States to play at their sites. Over the years the ability for Americans
to play at online casinos that originate outside the US has grown but there are
still a large number that don’t want the hassle.

We decided to include a list of online casinos that accept US players so you
don’t have to look any further than right here to find out what sites readily
accept players from states that allow online gambling.

These sites include:

  • Lucky Red Casino
  • Real Time Gaming
  • Slotland
  • Club USA Casino
  • Win A Day Casino
  • Red Stag Casino
  • Ignition Casino
  • Makitone Gaming
  • Liberty Slots Casino
  • Intertops Casino Classic
  • Buzzluck Casino
  • Jackpot Capital
  • Miami Club Casino
  • iNetBet
  • Intertops Red Casino
  • Bovada Casino
  • BetSoft
  • Slots.lv
  • Slotastic
  • Lincoln Casino
  • All Star Slots
  • Grande Vegas
  • High Noon Casino
  • Aladdins Gold Casino
  • Gossip Slots
  • Manhattan Slots
  • Casino Extreme
  • Desert Nights Rival Casino
  • Black Lotus Casino
  • Drake Casino
  • BetChain
  • Kudos Casino
  • Diamond Reels Casino
  • All You Bet Casino
  • Cafe Casino
  • Vegas Crest Casino
  • Sun Palace Casino
  • mBitCasino
  • Lotus Asia Casino
  • Fonecasino
  • Lucky Club Casino
  • Grand Fortune Casino
  • Vegas Casino Online
  • Lucky Creek
  • Treasure Mile
  • Jackpot Wheel Casino
  • Mandarin Palace
  • Grand Eagle


With this page we intended to help you as an online player to be able to know
for sure if you’re playing legally or if you’re taking a chance of being charged
with a crime in your state.

We included all of the 50 states so that you can easily determine which
states are online gambling friendly states and which ones frown upon the

You can find everything about the federal laws that have an effect on how the
industry is run and what types of gambling is permitted by the federal

Always remember that we aren’t lawyers so if you think or have any reason to
believe you might be in violation of any laws by joining an online gambling
casino make sure that you contact a lawyer before you join. This way you get
expert legal advice that can tell you for sure if it’s ok to join or not.

We hope you’ve found everything you need on this page including your next
casino to try out. Some of those in our list of casinos are top rated and have
amazing sites to play on so do your research and find one that’s right for you.