Is online gambling legal in the U.S.?

There’s no U.S. National law against Gaming online

There’s no U.S. national law against gaming online. At the federal level, gambling online is perfectly legal, due to the absence of a law against it. It’s possible to run afoul of state law (especially in extremely conservative countries ), but even there prosecution is very uncommon, and penalties are usually slight.
U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway confessed in a House hearing that just placing wagers online doesn’t violate federal law. No American has ever been arrested, indicted, or prosecuted by the feds for gambling online, since there’s no law against it. If online gaming were illegal I wouldn’t be running his site for nineteen decades, as an American citizen, living in the U.S., using my real name. And I occasionally gamble online, too, and I admit that openly, like I’m doing right now.
This might be confusing as the other outlets erroneously noted that Congress prohibited online gaming in 2006. These reports are simply wrong. The 2006 law makes it illegal for banks to maneuver gambling money once the bets are already prohibited (like from a state law), but does not make it illegal for players to create stakes. The legislation simply does not make or expand any ban on gaming itself. In reality, the legislation says quite clearly,”No provision of this subchapter shall be construed as altering, limiting, or extending any Federal or State law or Tribal-State compact prohibiting, permitting, or regulating gaming within the USA.” You can see for yourself by checking out the full text of the law.
While you don’t violate any federal laws from putting bets online, it’s not legal to run a gambling operation (i.e., to take bets), but in those few states where it’s explicitly legal and the operator is accredited. Therefore don’t believe that you can start an online casino or run Facebook raffles.
And yes, the FBI posted a frightening warning online where they claimed that placing bets on the internet is against the law. In short, they lied, and the DoJ eventually reversed that position anyway. (more on that)
States where online gambling is explicitly legal
Not many countries have specific laws against online gambling, although many have laws against gaming in general, which apply equally to offline and online gaming. A small handful of states have legalized online gaming, as long as you play one of the couple of approved online casinos. In some states, only certain types of gaming might be lawful (e.g., poker). The states which have legalized at least some Kind of online gambling are:
Delaware became the first state to legalize online gambling, in June 2012, and the third to start (Nov. 26, 2013). (USA Today, Delaware Online,
Nevada became the first state to legalize online gaming (well, poker ), on Feb. 21, 2013 (CBS) and launching on April 30. (LVRJ)
New Jersey became the third country to legalize online gambling (poker casino), signed into law in February 2013, and launching on Nov. 25th. (NJ Poker Online)
Be aware that Bovada won’t accept players from such states, nor will they take players from Maryland or New York.
The District of Colmbia became the first jurisdiction to legalize online gambling in the U.S., in April 2011. On the other hand, the measure was repealed in February 2012 until it became active. (NY Times)
State offenses of gaming are often misdemeanors
Even if countries don’t allow players to gamble, the penalties are almost always light. The only nations where easy gaming is a felony are the two Washingtons: Washington, DC, and Washington state. (source) In many states easy gaming is merely a misdemeanor, and in Arkansas and Colorado it’s a straightforward petty offense, like a traffic ticket. (source)
States with an online gambling prohibition
Even states that ban gambling in general usually don’t have a particular ban on online gambling. If it’s against the law to bet in your state, that applies online and offline, even if the law doesn’t mention online. However, a couple of countries do specifically outlaw online gaming. Those states are:
Nevada (go figure)
South Dakota
Source: Gambling Law U.S.
Participants convicted of violating State laws I know of two instances in which a player ran afoul of state legislation (in exceptionally conservative states), both of whom were charged under their nation’s general anti-gambling legislation, no special anti-online-gambling law:
North Dakota. Jeffrey Trauman paid a $500 fine on what was likely over $100,000 in online sports bet winnings, in 2003. (Gambling & the Law)
Oklahoma. Online sports bettor Roland Benavides was charged in 2011 and at 2012 received a deferred sentence (which means that when he doesn’t violate the conditions of his probation, he’ll probably face no jail time). (Information OK)
Kentucky seized domain names A Kentucky judge consented to allow Kentucky capture 141 gambling-related domain names, on the spurious grounds that a domain name comprised a”gambling device” under regulations. But even if it had been clear that gambling domains violated Kentucky law, the seizure was nevertheless ridiculous, because by that logic any nation could seize any domain anywhere in the world if the website happened to violate its regional law. In any event, as FlushDraw stated,”Only a small number of US-based registrars complied, and the seizures themselves were left somewhat moot when nearly all of the affected domains jumped to non-US registrar services and stopped using”.com” domains.”
The Kentucky Court of Appeals promptly chased the seizure actions, but the State appealed. I couldn’t find any updates involving 2014-2018 (EFF 2008, KY appealed in 2009, 2014 ruling)
Taking bets is prohibited It’s always been against federal law to take sports bets over the Web (not to make them). In other words, you can’t set up a website and accept sports bets from the general public. The law that prohibits this is called the Wire Act. For many years the feds stated that the Wire Act applied to accepting poker and casino bets also. Then in 2011 they reversed themselves and stated the Wire Act applied only to sports. (Forbes) Subsequently in 2019 they reversed themselves and returned to the previous position that the Wire Act actually applies to taking poker and casino stakes as well. (source) Though again, placing bets stays perfectly legal under national law. The challenge is finding a respectable place to perform with. Due to the legal issues, there are not many operators operating the whole U.S., and several of those that are kind of questionable. That’s why I promote only Bovada on this site, since they’re the best one for U.S. players.
States can now offer sports betting In May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a law which prohibited sports gambling in most countries but Nevada. This allows individual states to legalize sports gambling if they opt to do so. However, the court’s judgment doesn’t talk to the Wire Act, so online sportsbooks nevertheless violate federal law (for the operator, not the participant ). (Forbes)

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