Is Online Gambling Legal in the US?

is online gambling legal in the us

At present, online gambling in the US is illegal under federal law with some notable exceptions. This prohibition is upheld due to beliefs that social costs outweigh its entertainment value, religious objections and established “brick and mortar” casinos being unable to compete with lower operating expenses of online operators. While state and local governments do tax online gambling revenue is typically half that generated from brick-and-mortar casino gamblers in any one jurisdiction.

Native American casinos on tribal land and riverboat casinos permanently moored to bodies of water are the only exceptions to this general rule, although even they are governed by individual states rather than the federal government. Internet gambling laws have proven difficult to pass despite attempts at uniform regulation; instead, each state takes an individual approach in their regulation, with many currently legal states supporting online gaming activities.

Importantly, although placing bets at offshore sportsbooks or casinos is illegal for American citizens, no one has ever been prosecuted for doing so. Instead, the FBI has focused on large-scale operations rather than individual gamblers – no individual gambler has been singled out for prosecution.

Another obstacle lies within the Federal Wire Act, which bans betting on sporting events via wire services such as telephone and the Internet. However, courts have interpreted this to mean only operators of such services can accept bets from American citizens; individuals themselves remain legal when placing bets. Furthermore, under UIGEA of 2006 (attached onto larger bills by congressional conservatives opposed by bankers), accepting payments from US gamers became illegal under criminal statute.

As you can see, the situation is unclear and unlikely to reach a clear resolution soon. Therefore, it would be prudent to stay abreast of news regarding gambling sites you trust until that day arrives.

There’s also the possibility that a federal law could be passed to help clarify these issues, although more likely we’ll see state-by-state approaches to online gambling. Although online gambling remains illegal in most states, several are now legal to do so, such as Delaware, Michigan, Nevada and New Jersey; more states should soon follow suit. As such, it appears likely that online gambling will soon be widely accessible to US residents through various websites and apps – potentially bringing billions in tax revenue for states as an experiment unfolds. We will monitor this situation closely and update you when necessary.


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