It’s no secret that online gambling is one of the most lucrative industries around. By the end of 2024, it is projected that the total value of the global online gambling market will reach nearly $74 billion. However, that number can easily be topped if more countries follow the trend and legalize online gambling.
With 327 million residents, the US provides a fantastic opportunity for sportsbooks and online casino operators to expand their businesses. Unfortunately, several laws are slowing down the process of legalization, leaving gambling enthusiasts, as well as online gambling sites, wondering when exactly is gambling going to become legal in the US.
The good news is that gambling isn’t exactly illegal in the US, but the bad news is that it isn’t legal either. Well, yet, at least.
Before we get into too much detail, you should know that in the US, there are several different ways online gambling is perceived. For example, you have online sports betting, online casinos, and online lotteries. In other words, while one might be legal in one state, that doesn’t mean the other two are.
The Wire Act and PASPA Were Major Holdbacks
One of the chief setbacks in legalizing online gambling in the US is the Wire Act that essentially states that all online gambling activities are illegal. However, in 2011, the Department of Justice released a new legal opinion about this matter. It gave states a lot more liberty and authority when determining how they are going to handle their online gambling industry.
While that significantly helped online casino games like slots, poker, and lottery games, sports betting remained illegal due to the wide application of the Wire Act.
Still, things aren’t looking that grim for sportsbook operators that are looking to expand into the US market.
For example, the Wire Act dates back to 1961, a time when the Internet, let alone online gambling, didn’t exist. In other words, we may see some new changes being made to this act.
Furthermore, in 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is unconstitutional. Since PASPA works alongside the Wire Act to make it illegal for the residents of the US to place bets on sports events online, many states didn’t miss out on the opportunity to propose new bills and thus legalize sports betting.
Sadly, American gambling enthusiasts might have to wait just a bit longer before they can gamble online without any issues.
Can’t Play If You Can’t Pay
Namely, another law that stands in the way of legalization of online gambling is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act from 2006. However, unlike other laws that forbid players from engaging in any illegal gambling activity, this law targets companies that make casino games, as well as companies that process transactions by players to and from gambling sites.
This law states that no person or entity may knowingly accept any funds associated with a person who participates in illegal online gambling. It is for that reason that many banks and credit card companies refuse to process transactions made to potential gambling sites on which those funds might be used for the aforementioned illegal online gambling.
Even though the law was enacted to prevent tax fraud and money laundering, it inadvertently caused significant problems in the gambling community. It is the direct reason why many online companies that offer payment methods are wary of where Americans deposit their money and why gambling establishments don’t allow players from the US in their casinos.
Still, some Americans came up with a few workarounds, such as joining and playing in online casinos that accept deposits made in cryptocurrencies. This newest form of digital currency is unregulated by any law or country.
Where Is Online Gambling Legal?
Finally, we go back to our initial question. Online gambling is legal as long as it doesn’t cross state borders. In other words, if your state has legalized online gambling, you are good to go. However, to gamble, one must be physically present in a state that has legalized online gambling, and right now, that list isn’t very long.
Among the states that have legalized gambling in online casinos are Delaware, New Jersey and, as of July 2019, Pennsylvania. Since Pennsylvania is still fresh on the market, you won’t find that many online casinos yet. Also, you won’t find a great variety of games. However, there’s no reason to worry; the list of regulated and approved games continuously grows and Pennsylvanian online casinos will be packed with numerous games in no time.
In addition to these states that have already legalized online gambling, several other states are hoping to pass new bills and do the same. Some of the states pushing the hardest for new bills to pass are New York, Michigan, and West Virginia.
Apart from New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, Nevada can partially join the list since only online poker is legal in this state.
Furthermore, American betting enthusiasts hailing from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Rhode Island can place bets online in various sportsbooks that have been made legal in these states.
Finally, those looking to enjoy various forms of online lottery should know that this type of online gambling has been made legal in Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.
While some players look for loopholes and play online at their own risk, others are patiently waiting for online casino establishments and sports betting sites to become legal in their state. Granted, it may take some time before we get there, but at the same time, it also feels like it is right around the corner.
With more and more states opening their doors and welcoming online casinos and sportsbooks, the US seems to be on a path that leads to the legalization of online gambling.
Note that the information in this article is subject to change. Therefore, before gambling online, make sure to go through your states’ laws and see if online gambling is legal in your jurisdiction.