There’s More Online Gambling In The US Than People Think – And More Is On The Way

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United States online gambling legal
In September 2011, Virginia Seitz, then an assistant US attorney general and head of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, issued a memorandum opinion that would change the face of the US online gambling industry.

In her opinion, Seitz concluded the 1961 Wire Act applies only to sports betting, thereby green lighting states to pursue legalizing and regulating different forms of online gambling within their borders without fear of federal reprisal.

A number of states jumped at the opportunity to hop on the first wave. Unfortunately, a second wave has yet to materialize.

The general feeling is that legislation is dragging. But this loses sight of the fact that eight states have taken advantage of the opinion and legalized online lottery, online poker, and/or online casino games.

Furthermore, nine other states have passed legislation legalizing daily fantasy sports. Despite that industry’s abject rejection of the word “gambling,” DFS fits nicely into the online gaming category, considering DFS is almost exclusively an online product and deals in wagers, entry fees, and prizes.

Point being, there is more online gambling going on in the US than one would think, and more appears to be on the horizon.

How to gamble online in the US?

There was legal online gambling in the USA before the OLC opinion, before online lotteries sprang into being, and before Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey launched their online poker and casino sites in 2013.

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Online sports betting and horse racing predate current legislative efforts

Online sports betting has been available in Nevada for more than five years.

Many states are fighting like the dickens to legalize sports betting. Nevada not only has legal sports betting, but the state’s licensed sportsbooks can take online bets from a computer or phone located anywhere in the state.

Going back further, the horse racing industry has been accepting legal online wagers in certain states since 2006.

Online lottery

Currently, four states sell lottery tickets and/or instant win tickets online.

The states that have offered online lottery since the 2011 OLC opinion are:

  1. Georgia
  2. Illinois
  3. Kentucky
  4. Michigan
  5. Minnesota (online lottery was later repealed by the legislature)

Online casino and poker

Three states have launched online casino and/or poker websites since the OLC opinion was handed down:

  1. Delaware
  2. Nevada (poker only)
  3. New Jersey

Daily fantasy sports

As noted above, nine states have legalized daily fantasy sports contests:

  1. Massachusetts
  2. New York
  3. Virginia
  4. Mississippi
  5. Tennessee
  6. Indiana
  7. Colorado
  8. Missouri
  9. Kansas

Where online gaming legislation is being considered in the US

Where DFS legislation is being considered

Building on last year’s momentum, legislation to legalize daily fantasy sports has been introduced in 21 other states in 2017:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arkansas
  3. Connecticut
  4. Florida
  5. Georgia
  6. Hawaii
  7. Illinois
  8. Iowa
  9. Kentucky
  10. Minnesota
  11. Montana
  12. Nebraska
  13. New Jersey
  14. New Hampshire
  15. North Carolina
  16. Oregon
  17. Pennsylvania
  18. Rhode Island
  19. Texas
  20. Vermont
  21. Washington

Follow Legal Sports Report’s DFS and sports betting legislative tracker.

Where online poker and/or online casino legislation is being considered

Online poker and online casino legalization require legislation, and in some cases (New York for one), the passage of a constitutional amendment to legalize online casinos. This explains why New York is only considering online poker legislation.

  1. California (poker-only)
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Michigan
  4. New Hampshire
  5. New York (poker only)
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. West Virginia

Follow Online Poker Report’s online gambling and poker legislative tracker.

Where online lottery legalization is being considered

A state’s ability to sell lottery products online is dependent on the way its existing state laws are structured.

For some states, online lottery doesn’t require legislation, as many states give their lottery commissions sweeping authority to approve new games. In some cases, this includes the ability to sell tickets online, although the legislature could take this authority away, as was the case in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, the lottery commission authorized online sales, including instant win scratch cards. Online, these scratch cards look and play an awful lot like slot machines. This caused the legislature to spring into action and forbid online lottery sales of any kind.

Because of this, Michigan is exploring virtual sports, while West Virginia is looking at adding Equilottery’s horse racing lottery games.

Other states require legislation.

The states with active online lottery legislation are:

  1. Connecticut
  2. Hawaii
  3. Maryland (a bill that would prohibit online lottery sales)
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New Jersey
  6. Pennsylvania (proposed legislation by State Sen. Jay Costa makes mention of online lottery)
Steve Ruddock


Steve Ruddock is an avid poker player and a veteran member of the gaming media. His primary focus is on the regulated US online casino and poker markets. He writes for numerous online and print publications, including,, and USA Today.

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