Legal US Online Gambling Guide

History And Guide To Legal Online Gambling In The United States

Interested in US legal gambling? Click any state in the map below to learn more about the legal gambling options that state offers, such as:

You can also scroll down to learn more about the history of online gambling in the United States.

State-by-state legal gambling guide

  • States in green have passed online gambling (casino or lottery) bills.      
  • States in blue had an online gambling bill (casino or lottery) in 2018.

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Legal online casino games in the US

New Jersey

The online casino sites in New Jersey include:

The casino operations granted licenses included:

  • Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
  • Caesars Interactive Entertainment
  • Golden Nugget Atlantic City
  • Resorts Casino Hotel
  • Tropicana Casino and Resort
  • Trump Taj Mahal

New Jersey passed its online gambling law in 2013. This allowed Atlantic City casinos to apply for internet gaming permits and host a variety of online poker and online casino sites under those licenses.

New Jersey’s online gaming industry posted record revenues of $196.7 million in 2016. This was a 32.1 percent increase over 2015. It also helped the Atlantic City casino industry post an increase in total gambling revenues for the first time in a decade.

In 2017, the Garden State took in $245 million in online gambling revenue, an increase of almost 25 percent. Since launch, online casinos and poker have brought in $722 million and could crack $1 billion by the end of 2018.

Pennsylvania

Online casinos are not operational in Pennsylvania yet. However, as of Oct. 30, 2017, the law states Pennsylvania can offer regulated and legalized online casinos. The online casino measure is part of a larger act which also legalized:

  • Online poker
  • Daily fantasy sports
  • Online lottery
  • Video gaming terminals in truck stops
  • Satellite casinos
  • Sports betting

From April 16 to July 16, any of the 13 interested casinos in the state could apply for a $10 million interactive gaming license. That license gives each property the ability to offer online slots, table games, and poker.

In total, nine of the 13 casinos applied for these licenses. Presque Isle Downs applied for online slots and table games but no poker. Mohegan Sun Pocono applied for all three separately, so it cost them $12 million instead of $10 million.

Rivers Casino surprised many when it rescinded its interactive application. Its licenses are now up for grabs by qualified gaming entities from outside of Pennsylvania.

Delaware

Delaware became the first state to legalize online gambling in 2012. The market opened up in November 2013 with sites operated through the state’s three horse tracks. This includes Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway. These sites offer a variety of Blackjack, Roulette, Video Slots and Video Poker games.

Like the state, the Delaware market is relatively small. However, the Delaware online gaming industry posted its best numbers in 2016, generating $3 million in revenue. Delaware Park led the way with $1.4 million, Dover Downs recorded a little over $1 million and Harrington Raceway claimed $534,000 in revenue.

Legal sports betting in the US

The legal situation surrounding sports betting in the US has undergone a radical change in 2018. Localities across the country are finding themselves with new options to wager on sporting events.

This situation is due to a US Supreme Court decision. In May, the highest court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was unconstitutional.

After the decision, any state could potentially offer sports betting to its inhabitants. So far, six states are either actively allowing sports betting, or have legalized it and are hammering out the final details.

New Jersey

New Jersey is the most prominent state to offer sports betting right now. The Garden State spearheaded the downfall of PASPA and contributed the most time and effort to argue in front of the Supreme Court.

Currently, there are eight sportsbooks and eight online betting apps up and running in the state:

Online and mobile betting apps

Brick and mortar sportsbooks (partnering company in parenthesis)

  • The Meadowlands (FanDuel)
  • Ocean Resort Casino (William Hill)
  • Monmouth Park (William Hill)
  • Borgata Casino
  • Resorts Casino (DraftKings)
  • Bally’s Atlantic City
  • Harrah’s Atlantic City
  • Golden Nugget 

In August 2018, New Jersey accepted almost $100 million in wagers. That figure translated into over $9 million in revenue for the various locations around the state.

In September, revenue jumped in the first full month of football action. Handle totaled $184 million with $24 million in gross gaming revenue.

West Virginia

West Virginia became the fifth state to offer sports betting on Aug. 30, 2018. Hollywood Casino Charles Town soft-launched its sportsbook in the Mountain State, and officially opened two days later.

Since then, one other in-state location has fired up its sports betting operation. The Casino Club at The Greenbrier Resort unveiled its lounge-like sportsbook on Sept. 13, 2018.

West Virginia also has three other casinos in-state. Two of them, Mardi Gras Casino & Resort and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack, have secured sports betting permits and are drawing close to open their own sportsbooks.

The fifth, the Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack, & Resort, has been the least active regarding sports betting.

Brick and mortar sportsbooks (partnering company in parenthesis)

  • Hollywood Casino Charles Town 
  • The Casino Club at The Greenbrier (FanDuel)

Eligible casino properties

  • Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
  • Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack
  • The Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack, & Resort

Online sports betting will be available in West Virginia soon. By law, all five properties can create online sports betting apps or sites for patrons.

So, an online site could happen at any time in the state. However, it is unclear if one will show up in 2018.

Pennsylvania

The situation with Pennsylvania sports betting is one of the more frustrating ones in the country. Technically, wagering on sports has been legal since 2017, although nothing could proceed with PASPA in place.

At present, five companies have filed their apps. Two already have Gaming Control Board approval.

The pending sports betting applications belong to:

Other than that, none of the other casinos have applications on file. All are eligible to do so, however. They are:

There will also be a 13th casino in the state fairly soon. Stadium Casino is under construction in the south part of Philadelphia.

Other locations

The Keystone State also permits two other types of gambling facilities besides its casinos. The first of these types is the off-track parlors.

As Greenwood Gaming’s application shows, all eight of these facilities could potentially offer sports betting.

Pennsylvania’s 2017 gambling expansion also included Category 4 casinos, which would be limited in both size and scope. However, they can offer sports betting if they choose to do so.

Delaware

Delaware was the first state to offer sports betting after the demise of PASPA. The First State lived up to its nickname by accepting the first wager on June 5, 2018.

There are three casinos in Delaware. All three offer sports betting to patrons onsite. They are:

  • Delaware Park Casino
  • Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
  • Harrington Raceway & Casino

None of the casinos in Delaware can offer mobile wagering at this time. However, legislators have expressed interest in the concept for future betting.

Mississippi

Mississippi became the fourth state to offer sports betting on Aug. 1, 2018. As it happens, Mississippi is the third-largest gambling market in the country.

There are roughly 30 casinos operating in the state. Many of them now offer sports betting, including these popular locations:

  • Beau Rivage (Biloxi)
  • Gold Strike (Tunica)
  • Sam’s Town (Tunica)
  • Horseshoe (Tunica)
  • IP Casino (Biloxi)
  • Hollywood Gulf Coast (Biloxi)
  • Boomtown Casino (Biloxi)
  • Hollywood Casino (Tunica)
  • 1st Jackpot Casino (Tunica)
  • Resorts Casino (Tunica)
  • Pearl River Resort – Golden Moon (Philadelphia)

Additionally, as of Aug. 30, the Pearl River Resort now features the Sportsbook at Timeout Lounge. This made the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians the first Native American tribe to offer sports betting outside of Nevada.

Mobile betting

Mississippi does not have a provision in its gaming laws to allow online wagering at this time. However, the law does permit mobile wagering onsite.

Mississippi’s legislature has expressed interest in permitting online sports betting. However, there is nothing firm on that front, at least in the legislative sense.

Rhode Island

By virtue of a law signed in June 2018, Rhode Island declared sports betting to be legal inside the state’s diminutive borders.

The state contains two casinos. Both properties are owned and operated by the same company, Twin River Holdings. They are:

  • Twin River Casino (Lincoln)
  • Twin River Tiverton Casino and Hotel (Tiverton)

Rhode Island law does not permit online or mobile sports betting. However, Ocean State lawmakers have expressed an interest in pursuing it in the future.

Nevada

Nevada is the birthplace of legal sports betting in the United States. Beginning in 1949, the Silver State began accepting wagers on sports events, live horseraces and off-track horseracing bets.

During PASPA’s effective time, Nevada enjoyed a virtual monopoly on sports betting. For now, Nevada’s sportsbooks remain the industry standard in the country.

One oddity of the sports betting industry in Nevada is its stance on online sports betting. Casinos are allowed to create mobile applications, but there are no standalone sports betting websites.

There are several options available for Nevada mobile sports bettors, such as:

  • Atlantis Reno
  • Boyd
  • Caesars
  • CG Technology*
  • MGM
  • South Point
  • Station Casino
  • TI
  • Westgate
  • William Hill
  • Wynn

Virtually every Nevada casino offers a sportsbook. Here are some of the more prominent books in the state:

  • Westgate
  • Wynn Las Vegas
  • Station Casinos – 7 casinos
  • CG Technology* – 8 casinos
  • Caesars – 13 casinos
  • MGM Resorts International – 10 casinos
  • William Hill
  • Boyd Gaming – 9 casinos
  • South Point
  • Treasure Island
  • Jerry’s Nugget

*CG Technology is in major trouble with the Nevada Gaming Commission. The commission recently rejected a settlement agreement for numerous violations against the company. At this time, it is unclear whether CG will be allowed to keep its license much longer. The company is under an order to discontinue its mobile app within six months of August 2018. 

Legal online poker in the US

Multistate poker

You can play online poker with players in other states, with New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware all allowing some poker sites to offer games in all three jurisdictions. New Jersey was the most recent addition to multistate poker pooling starting in 2018.

Read on for more about online poker in each state.

New Jersey

New Jersey authorized online gaming licensees to launch online poker and online casinos when the market opened up in 2013.

Online poker sites currently operating in the market include:

WSOP.com and NJ 888 poker share player pools, and they also serve all three states with legal online poker, sharing player pools across all of them. The most traf

PokerStars NJ was a late entry into the market, launching in the Spring of 2016. However, it has become the market leader. Pala Poker is the latest entry into the New Jersey online poker market, launching in June 2017.

Overall online gambling revenues continue to climb in New Jersey, averaging close to $20 million a month in 2017. However, online poker remains a relatively small percentage of that. In fact, New Jersey online poker revenues seem to average around $2 million per month, representing just 10 percent of the overall online gambling market in the state.

That will change soon though. In the fall of 2017, the state agreed to pool online poker players with both Nevada and Delaware.

Nevada

Online poker is the only licensed and regulated form of online gambling in the state of Nevada.

Station Casinos’ Ultimate Poker was the first to go live on April 30, 2013. However, WSOP.com Nevada launched in September of that same year and quickly became market leaders. WSOP.com employs 888 Holdings software and heavily cross-promotes its online offering through the World Series of Poker. These efforts include online satellites to WSOP bracelet events and online WSOP bracelet events themselves.

Real Gaming has since launched a competing online poker room affiliated with the South Point Casino. The site only offers No Limit Texas Hold’em cash games and one-table tournaments.

Ultimate Poker shut down in November 2014, leaving just two online poker sites operating in Nevada.

In March 2015, Nevada and Delaware entered into a poker liquidity sharing agreement which is run through WSOP.com in Nevada.

Delaware

Delaware’s three horse-track based online gambling sites offer peer-to-peer online poker with software provided by 888 Holdings. Delaware and Nevada began sharing online poker traffic in March 2015. However, the Delaware online poker market remains small, posting one of the lowest player participation rates in the world since its inception.

Pennsylvania

In October of 2017, Pennsylvania passed a massive gambling expansion bill into law. As part of the expansion, the state can now legally offer regulated online poker within the state.

The language of the law also sets up the possibility for the state to easily enter into interstate compacts like the one between Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.

The state received eight applications from PA casinos to offer comprehensive online gambling in the state, including online poker. The remaining casinos could still apply for a la carte online poker licenses for $4 million each. Mohegan Sun Pocono chose to buy one, while Presque Isle bought other a la carte licenses, but skipped on poker.

The remaining online poker licenses will go to approved gaming entities from outside of Pennsylvania. The application period runs through the end of October. PGCB will likely award those remaining licenses in November.

Online lottery sales in the US

Georgia

The Georgia Lottery Corporation allows residents to play online from anywhere in Georgia. Players can buy tickets for draw games, including Fantasy 5, Mega Millions, Powerball. There are also Keno games available and the Georgia Lottery’s exclusive interactive Diggi Games. These are essentially social games and electronic scratch-off hybrids including crosswords and bingo games.

Online lottery sale went live in the state in November 2012. The launch coincided with the release of a lottery debit card players can use online called the iHOPE. It allows players to preload funds, buy tickets and download winnings.

Illinois

Illinois launched a pilot program offering online sales of Lotto and Mega Millions tickets in March 2012. This made Illinois the first state to offer online lottery ticket sales. By December 2012, the Illinois Lottery’s website was also offering tickets for the popular multi-state Powerball lottery. It has since expanded to include Daily Lottery Games and Instant Games, the online equivalent of instant ticket scratch-offs.

In April 2014, Illinois Lottery officials announced online tickets sales had reached $36.9 million in the program’s first two years.

Michigan

The Michigan Lottery officially launched online lottery sales in the Fall of 2014. Michigan residents were then allowed to buy tickets for Instant Keno and electronic scratch-off game equivalents from a computer, smartphone, or tablet device. In January 2016, the Michigan Lottery began draw game ticket sales online. This allowed Michigan residents to buy tickets online for the most popular draw games, including Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto 47, and Fantasy 5. Players have to be Michigan residents over the age of 18. Plus, they must sign up for an account on the Michigan Lottery website to make purchases.

Learn more about Michigan online lottery here.

Kentucky

Kentucky became the latest state to offer online lottery ticket sales in 2016. The state offers online sales of jackpot and daily draw games as well as instant play games. Online ticket sales were actually approved in 2013. However, it took the state three years to develop its complex online ticketing and security system. Players have to set up an account and deposit money to buy tickets. Deposits cannot be withdrawn in accordance with money-laundering laws.

New Hampshire

In June of 2017, New Hampshire became the fifth state to pass laws allowing for online lottery sales.

On Sept. 20, 2018, the state officially launched its online lottery offering.

Pennsylvania

As part of a large gambling expansion bill that passed in October 2017, Pennsylvania is the latest state to legalize the online lottery. The PA iLottery soft-launched on May 29, 2018. Currently, it only features instant win online scratch-off games. There is room for the game selection to expand in the future though.

However, the lottery is currently dealing with a legal issue. Pennsylvania casinos recently filed suit against the PA Lottery because, according to the casinos,  its online instant games bear too strong a resemblance to slot machines.

Daily fantasy sports in the US

Daily fantasy sports sites operate in numerous states. Some have authored legislation regulating and taxing operators, while others do not.

New York was really the first state to take on DFS operators after the game’s popularity began to rise. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a cease-and-desist order to top DFS operators DraftKings and FanDuel in November 2015. At the time, Schneiderman claimed DFS was illegal gambling under state law and really just a re-branded version of sports betting.

A protracted legal battle and negotiated went on until August 2016 when NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing DFS sites to serve New Yorkers. The sites now pay a licensing fee and 15 percent tax on gross revenues to the state.

In the meantime, Massachusetts lawmakers went a different route. They chose to legalize DFS operations and set a number of regulations. However, there are no taxes and fees associated. The terms of that deal expire in 2018.

In Nevada, DFS operators are being treated just like casinos. They are required to apply for a gambling operators license. So far, no major DFS operators have sought to operate in Nevada.

Other states, like California, have considered legislation regulating and taxing DFS operators, but have yet to pass any laws. California remains the largest market for DFS sites.

The history of online gambling in the United States

The first online casinos started opening up on the internet back in 1994. The operators of these sites were mostly based in places like Antigua and the Isle of Man, but they happily accepted customers from the United States.

By 1996, a First Nations group near Montreal, Quebec, Canada set up a gaming commission and started issuing licenses to online poker and casino sites on North American soil. This group was the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake and the commission was known as the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

The number of online gambling websites around the world suddenly ballooned from a handful to hundreds.

By 1998, reports suggested online gambling revenues were upwards of $800 million.

US lawmakers start looking

A year later, the US Senate made its first attempt to ban online gambling, introducing the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. The bill did not pass.

In 2002, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled the Federal Wire Act prohibits sports betting, but not necessarily online gambling. However, the US Department of Justice disagreed, claiming all online gambling is illegal in the US, and that advertising online gambling is akin to aiding and abetting a crime. In 2004, search engines Google and Yahoo! pulled all online gambling advertising.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

In September 2006, the US Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) as a part of the SAFE Port Act. The act made it illegal for US banks to process transactions for online gambling sites. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law in October and a number of online gambling operators immediately pulled out of the US market.

However, The online gambling industry kept growing and many operators continued to accept US customers. The offshore operations skirted around the new banking laws in a variety of creative ways. By 2008, market data and intelligence firm H2 Gambling Capital estimated worldwide online gambling revenues had hit $21 billion.

Online Poker’s Black Friday

On April 15, 2011, three of the largest online poker operators in the world were indicted on various charges including violating the UIGEA. These sites included PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker. Access to the sites from the US was shut down and the massive US online poker market was effectively closed. The day became known as Black Friday in the online poker community.

It was ultimately exposed that Full Tilt had failed to segregate player funds and paid out millions in to its owners. A settlement was reached that included PokerStars buying Full Tilt and paying back US players who were left out of pocket.

Weighing in on the Wire Act

In December 2011, the DOJ released a legal opinion that Federal Wire Act only applies to sports bets. This paved the way for individual states to begin to consider online lottery sales, and ultimately online poker and online casino games.

The new legal online gambling market

In the summer of 2012, Delaware became the first state to legalize online gambling, passing the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act.

In February 2013, Nevada became the second state to legalize online gambling, authorizing the issue of online poker licenses. Within a week, New Jersey became the third state to legalize online gambling, authorizing the issue of both online poker and online casino licenses to casinos in Atlantic City.

In April 2013, the first legal online gambling site in the United States went live in Nevada. It was an online poker room called Ultimate Poker. By November, online poker and online casinos went live in Delaware and New Jersey.

In 2017, Pennsylvania became the fourth and largest state to pass legislation regulating online gambling. It is in the process of licensing and launching both online casinos and online poker room.

What states might introduce online gambling next?

California

California has considered several pieces of online gambling legislation but has yet to turn any into law. The Assembly was the first legislative body in the country to pass DFS regulation legislation. However, that bill died in the Senate. Online poker also appeared close to passing in 2016, but competing interests, including operators, Native American casinos, California card rooms, and lawmakers failed to find a compromise.

Stakeholders in California’s gambling community have proven they have difficulty finding consensus on a host of issues, including online gambling. In 2017, the factions failed to come together to find a compromise and no action is expected in CA in 2018.

Illinois

Illinois lawmakers have been locked in a protracted battle over gambling expansion initiatives for years. It has at different times both included and excluded online gambling. The state of Illinois appears closer to passing online gambling legislation than ever before. The state got close to passing a bill in 2017, but it never got through both chambers of the state legislature.

Learn more about the opportunity online gambling represents for Illinois here.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts is relatively new to the world of legal and regulated gambling. The state actually fought to keep Native American casinos out for years. It passed the Expanded Gaming Act in 2011, and the state’s first slot parlor opened at Plainridge Park Casino in June 2015. The state’s first two sizable commercial casinos are MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor. MGM Springfield opened on Aug. 24, while Encore Boston Harbor remains under construction.

Massachusetts did pass a bill regulating, but not taxing, daily fantasy sports. Of course, that’s likely to change when the deal expires in 2018.

The DFS bill also created The Massachusetts Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports. The commission explored the idea of regulated online gambling and recommended to state officials that regulated online gambling did have its benefits.

New York

New York has had Native American casinos and racetracks with video lottery terminals for decades. At the end of 2016, the first of four new commercial casinos began opening up across the state. The state even went through a year-long legal battle with the DFS industry before settling and passing DFS legislation. However, online gambling legislation has gone through a lengthy process in the state that has yet to prove fruitful.

The latest effort by lawmakers has come in the area of online poker, where the State Senate has passed legislation two years in a row, only to see it largely ignored by the Assembly.

What is also working against New York is that its recently opened commercial casinos are financially struggling. While the perception is unfounded, the thought is online casinos would only further saturate the already crowded casino market.