Have some questions about gambling in the United States, want to know where you stand or where the legal casinos are?

Look no further, because this guide was written with people like you in mind.

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Gambling in the US: All You Need to Know

online casinos based out of the US can service players inside the USOnline gambling in the US is a contentious and somewhat confusing issue, which is why so many people still ask questions about it. In this article we aim to alleviate concerns and put an end to the confusion, telling you all that you ever wanted to know about online gambling in the United States of America.

Is Online Gambling Legal in the US?

Yes and no. In fact, this question can be answered with several positives and negatives.

It’s a yes in the sense that an online casino based outside of the US can offer its services to players inside the US, and a no in the sense that online casinos can not base themselves within the United States.

Also, it’s a yes in the sense that you can gamble freely, but a no in the sense that you are unable to use US banking institutions to do so.

This is their main issue, and while there is a lot of confusion and ambiguity involving real money online casino gambling games in the United States, a law passed in 2002 made it very clear that no financial transactions were allowed with US institutions.

Of course, there are ways around this. Many online casinos simply do not let you use debit cards, credit cards and other such methods to make deposits and withdrawals.

PayPal, Skrill and other web wallets have similar restrictions in place as they do not want to fall foul of the US government.

There are still options available though. To learn more about these and other payment methods, you can read our extensive guide on the subject of casino banking options.

Legal Online Casinos in the United States

We have scoured most of the US casinos out there, playing through the legitimate ones, the scams and the ones that seem to be a mixture of the two.

We used prepaid cards to protect our cash and we took risks that we would never recommend others take. But in the end it was worth it, because we managed to compile a list of the very best casinos that offer their services to players in the United States.

To see this list for yourself, and to discover the sort of things that you should look for so that you can spot legitimate casinos yourself, read on.

How to Gamble Online in the United States

US gamblers have to be extra weary of scammers on online casinosYou need to be very careful when gambling online in the United States, because while loopholes will allow you to do this, it is still a contentious issue and you need to be careful. This is not just down to the legal status either, as scam casinos and other gambling sites are more popular here than they are everywhere else.

In the eyes of the scammers, US-based players are more desperate and are willing to take more risks, which leaves them and their money exposed.

Never assume that just because a site looks professional it is. Always look into it, always try to verify their certificates and always make sure they are regulated.

You should never hand over your financial details unless you are dealing with a third-party independent provider that is safe and can be trusted, and you should never play on games that are not fair. You can vouch for their fairness yourself by checking out the auditing information, which should be available on the site.

Often provided by companies such as eCogra, this audit runs checks on the games and their random number generators, checking to make sure they are as safe and as fair as they claim to be.

If there is no such information, if they don’t seem to be regulated and if you can’t vouch for anything, then move on. It doesn’t matter how desperate you are to play and it doesn’t matter how tempting their offers are, you’ll be playing right into the hands of the scammers if you don’t remain vigilant.

Other Online Gambling Sites in the United States

One of the rarest forms of online gambling in the United States is sports betting, also known as sports books. These are heavily restricted outside of the state of Nevada, and in the online world the same restrictions apply.

Americans have also faced severe restrictions when looking to gamble on their favorite sports, which would seem alien to many sports fans in the rest of the world and is a huge frustration to a sports mad nation.

Poker, bingo and other such games are less restricted, as well as playing online roulette, and just like online casinos, they are available if you know where to look.

Lotteries are the same. Offline they serve as one of the few ways that Americans can gamble freely and without restrictions, but online you need to seek sites based overseas.

The Best US States for Gambling

The restrictions on online gambling are the same across the United States, but the same does not apply to offline gambling.

The state of Nevada is the most relaxed when it comes to gambling, as this is the home of Las Vegas and Reno, as well as widespread gambling and hedonism. The City of Sin was built on gambling and still thrives on it.

Nevada is not the only state where you can gamble though. There are Indian Gambling Laws in the US that allow recognized native tribes to operate casinos, which they do across the country.

There is also a huge casino in the state of Connecticut known as Foxwoods Resort, as well as a number of casinos in Florida. Gambling is restricted in the Sunshine State, but Indian casinos, many of which are run by the Seminole tribe, are widespread, and there are also cruises that take you to International waters — where the US laws do not apply — and then let you gamble.

Popular casinos, card rooms, race tracks and more also exist from California to Kentucky, but without a doubt, if you want to get the most out of gambling in the United States, you should head to Las Vegas.

Be Aware: Online Gambling Scams

Online Gambling Blacklist

It is not easy to maintain a blacklist, simply because as soon as a site turns rogue, it goes under. This is a good thing though, because it means that if you are ever concerned about a website, then you just need to do some research, ask around, or just wait to see if it goes under.

The worrying thing is that some sites begin as genuine and legitimate, and then turn rogue. We can use Lock Poker as an example.

This is a poker site that began to flourish after Black Friday, due to the fact that it offered a place for US players to play the game they loved. It received a huge boost and with the downfall of the three top poker sites, Lock Poker became one of the biggest sites in the US.

However, that didn’t last. There were reports of them not paying out, sometimes for months at a time. The reports were always there, they were just covered by positive reviews and good marketing.

Then things started to get out of hand and before long, Lock Poker were not paying players their winnings. At this time they were still active, still marketing and still driving new players to the site, but if any of those players had simply searched for Lock Poker in a search engine, they would have known to stay away.

And that’s all you need to do. Blacklists can’t be relied upon because rogue sites come and go, but a simple Google search will tell you all that you need to know.

Black Friday: What Did It Mean?

Black Friday was the day when the three biggest poker sites were indicted by the US government. It occurred on April 15, 2011 and Full Tilt Poker, Pokerstars and Absolute Poker were the subjects of the indictment.

Overnight, millions of US players players were banned from these sites, unable to access their money. Most of these players got their money back, albeit after a long wait, but all players from the US took a big hit, especially the professionals who played poker for a living and relied on one or more of these sites to pay the bills.

Black Friday had a massive effect on online gambling in the United States and it sent many gambling sites into hiding.

It was not the first time that a major gambling site had been forced to stop allowing US players, as the same thing had happened to Party Poker previously, but this was bigger and more widespread.

The websites were not indicted for offering gambling to US players and the issues were linked to Ponzi schemes and other financial irregularities. The issue, in the eyes of the US government, is that these sites were not regulated in the US and were therefore allowed to do things that they should not have been allowed to do.

The face of online gambling in the US changed. That’s why casinos that offer services to US players tend to do so without accepting debit / credit cards from US banks, limiting transactions that could cause them problems down the line.

What Happened After Black Friday?

Black Friday was the end for many players based in the United States, and it was also the end for Absolute Poker, which shut down following the indictment.

Pokerstars was quick to return and it flourishes to this day — albeit without players from the United States — whereas Full Tilt remained inactive for sometime, before eventually being bought out by the owners of Pokerstars and then being reactivated, keeping much of the same technology, games and layouts.

How to Spot a Scam Casino

As well as doing a thorough search on the casino, you can also look on its main website to determine if it is legitimate.

All online casinos need to be regulated. This is what protects you and your money and it is what guarantees that the casino you are dealing with will not run away with your money, at least in theory. Look at the header and footer of the website for details on the regulator. This will be displayed either as a logo or simply as the name of the regulator.

Don’t just take this on face value though, and always make sure you click onto the link and verify that the casino in question actually is regulated.

You can also look for information regarding the auditor, which is something that all casinos should have. An auditor is a third-party, independent company that runs a check on the software of the casinos and the banking options, assuring players that the former is fair and the latter is safe.

Security certificates, endorsements and even awards are also a good sign and should be listed alongside regulator information, but again, this is something that you need to look into, because scam casinos can easily make the same claims.

Safe Casinos in the US

You can also browse our list of the very best casinos to signup to the biggest, the best and the most genuine casinos out there. Finding legitimate casinos in the United States is much more difficult than it is elsewhere as these casinos take more liberties, as do the players that use them.

However, we have done all of the hard work for you, so just click onto our list and find a casino that suits you. Just remember that what works for someone else might not work for you, and what’s legal and available in another player’s state might not be legal and available in yours. However, if you can find it on this list, then you can safely assume that it is safe, and that’s the main thing.

FAQ

every state had a different legal gambling ageWhat is the US Gambling Age?

There is no fixed minimum age across the US, and the legal age will depend on your state. This tends to range from as young as 18, to as old as 21. Alcohol plays a big role in this, and if alcohol is served on the casino floor, the the age limit tends to increase.

Some states also have different minimum age limits for different forms of betting. For instance, you only need to be 18 to play the lottery and parimutuel betting in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut and other states, but you need to be 21 to enter a casino.

In California, the casinos themselves set the age limits, with a range of 18-21, and it’s much the same story in Michigan, Minnesota and New York, whereas states like Montana, Rhode Island and Wyoming have limits of 18 across the board.

you can use paypal for online casinosIs Online Gambling Possible Using PayPal?

PayPal tends to place gambling sites under restrictions as far as accepting US players, and it is incredibly rare to find an exception. What’s more, if you do find an exception, there is no telling whether they are a legitimate site offering a legitimate service, or whether they are simply looking to rob you of some PayPal funds.

Always remember that scammers will try to use your greed and desperation against you, and they know how many US gamblers out there want to be able to use PayPal. So always do your research and verify that a casino is 100% safe and legitimate before you deposit. One other good alternative is using Bitcoin for your casino games.

gambling is legal in certain states but legal in all abroad online casinosIs Gambling Illegal in the United States?

Gambling itself is not illegal, but it’s not quite that straightforward.

In states like Nevada, it is widely available and legal in most forms, but in others, there are heavy restrictions in place on anything but Indian gaming, charity gambling and lotteries.

Online gambling is a different beast altogether, but it is something that the US government have little control over.

After all, if an online casino is based outside of the US, is regulated and official in the country it is based and simply offers gambling services to US players, then are they breaking any rules? The answer is usually a simply shrug of the shoulders, and the governments do little about it simply because there is nothing they can do. They can’t punish the sites and they can’t punish the players, such is the beauty and the confusion regarding online gambling.

However, they can stop US-based financial institutions from facilitating online gambling, and they can also put a block on US-based bank accounts held by those casinos. They have done that in the past, and will do it again if given the chance, which is why the sites that do offer gambling to US players tend to limit the ways you can deposit and withdrawal.

Of course, in the United States individual states have their own laws, and it’s always best to check these before you gamble.

because american history gambling is illegal in the US. but not on online casinosWhy Does the US Have Such Strict Online Gambling Laws?

The United States is a unique country. It is huge, wealthy and modern, yet it also has a large religious population and was founded by puritans. The belief that gambling is wrong, that it corrupts minds and creates chaos, is inherent. Few towns want casinos built nearby, few citizens want their city to turn into Las Vegas.

The laws that restrict gambling in the US have been around for many years and probably won’t change anytime soon.

Of course, many other countries also had similar laws. Many hundreds of years ago, after dice games became popular and the king was worried they were corrupting his soldiers, the British banned gambling, only to take these laws to Canada, Australia and other countries. Back in Britain, gambling laws were relaxed, but in the countries they colonized, those restrictions remained and the remnants of those historic restrictions still remain even to this day.

many professional gamblers leave the states - or you could wager on online casinosShould I just Move to Canada?

You could, and you would be following in the footsteps of many professional gamblers if you did. After Black Friday there was a glut of professional poker players moving north, taking their laptops and their lives with them in an effort to keep playing legally online.

However, it’s not really necessary. As we have already discussed, online gambling is available in the United States, it’s just not as common and not as easily found. The same goes for all forms of gambling, including offline gambling. After all, why head north when you can head south, to states like Nevada and Florida, where gambling is widely available, or to northern states like New Jersey, the home of Atlantic City.

Canada is beautiful and there is nothing wrong with wanting to move there. It is less restrictive when it comes to online gambling and to gambling in general, but if you’re moving purely for the gambling, then it’s probably not worth it.

Conclusion

As you can see, and as you probably already knew, online gambling (and gambling in general) is not a straightforward matter in the United States. There are a lot of complications, a lot of loopholes, and a lot of concerned gamblers.

The key thing to remember, however, is that online gambling is not as restricted as you might think, and it is certainly not illegal.

It is true that sites based in the US are not allowed to offer gambling to players in the US, or anywhere else for that matter, but as of yet, there seems to be nothing to stop casinos based outside of the US from offering services to US players.

So, for now at least you can be happy in the knowledge that you won’t get so much as a slap on the wrist for playing your favorite real slots and table games on your favorite online casino. However, laws change from state to state and they are always evolving, so it’s best to keep an ear close to the ground and to monitor any and all changes as they are made.

You should also ensure that you check your local laws before taking part in any form of gambling.