First, there is no federal law against online gambling in the US. You read that right: it is NOT illegal to gamble online in the USA. Despite what you may hear about it being illegal, there is not a single national law against the simple act of placing bets on the internet. Gambling is legal under U.S. federal law, but each state is free to regulate or prohibit gaming, and laws vary from state to state.
Millions of Americans gamble online every year and we have yet to hear about a single person being charge with the crime of internet gambling. A few individual states have laws that criminalize gambling, but those laws are not enforced. I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice, but I’m just saying – I don’t know of a single individual who has ever faced criminal charges for gambling online.
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What US Law Says about Online Gambling
What the law does outlaw is running a gambling site or processing financial transactions for gambling sites. If you don’t own a bank or your own gambling site, you’re in the clear. Where you would get in trouble is if you one day decided to start a website and start offering real money roulette to all your friends.
When the UIGEA was passed in 2006, it stated that banks could no longer knowingly send money to gambling sites or accept money from gambling sites. This did not affect individual gamblers, but it did make it harder for us to deposit and withdraw from gambling sites. The good news is that gambling sites have found alternative methods to process those transactions.
Even so, those banking laws do cause headaches for individual players from time to time. Sometimes credit card deposits to gambling sites are rejected. Other times, withdrawals take longer than they should. This is almost entirely the result of the UIGEA telling banks not to handle gambling-related transactions.
But for the most part, the industry has adapted and continued on as strong as ever. We experience the occasional hiccup when payment processors are seized, but life goes on. The best gambling sites prepare for these issues and always have alternative payment processors lined up. If a gambling site ever tells you it will have a delay processing your most recent withdrawal, you can thank the UIGEA.
Note: Some gambling sites use the UIGEA as a cop-out for not paying players. Legitimate online casinos do not cancel withdrawals outright and blame it on the law. They also don’t spend 4 months dallying around with your money. Respectable gambling sites overcome these issues quickly – another reason to always stick with positively-rated casinos.
Having said all that, it’s always possible that the US Department of Justice or someone else will suddenly decide to change their interpretation of the law. It really saddens me to say this, but we have an extremely bloated government and our elected leaders are increasingly willing to trash the Constitution in order to further various political agendas. This is a problem on both the Left and Right, by the way.
State-by-State Gaming Laws & Legal Sites
Below you’ll find a link to each U.S. state’s stance on online gambling, along with a list of any legal online gambling sites.
In the cases where the state has yet to regulate online gambling, we list recommended offshore sites that accept U.S. players.
State gaming commissions are government agencies charged with regulating casinos and other types of gaming. The commissions enforce gaming rules and activities, such as licensing, accounting systems, and rules of casino games.
The official name of state gaming commissions varies from state to state and some states in which gambling is illegal still have commissions on charitable gaming.