Learn more about legal online gambling options in Virginia

Here's what's available for you to play in Virginia:

Online Casino: Sweepstakes Only (Chumba Casino)

Online Poker: Sweepstakes Only (Global Poker)

Online Sports Betting: No

Virginia does not offer and land-based casinos or online gambling sites. At the beginning of 2019, legislators filed HB 1638, which would legalize online lottery and online sports betting. Until then, you may only play online casino and online poker games on sweepstakes gaming sites.

Read more about online gambling in Virginia.

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Legal Online Casino

Legal Online Poker

Featured states

New Jersey

Available Now (launched in 2013)
What forms of online gambling

New Jersey is currently the largest market for regulated online gambling in the US. Over a dozen legal and licensed online casino sites and poker rooms compete for an overall market that is worth more than $225 million a year. There are a number of sportsbooks and online sports betting apps live in the state.

Read more on New Jersey Online Gambling


Online sports betting launched May 2019
Online casinos launched July 2019
What forms of online gambling

Many of PA’s major casinos have rolled out online casino sites. Online sports betting has already started, beginning with Sugarhouse Online Sportsbook PA.

Read more on Pennsylvania Online Gambling

West Virginia

Partial launch in 2018
What forms of online gambling

West Virginia already has online sports betting apps, thanks to a 2018 law. However, online casinos and poker rooms are soon to join the fold. The enactment of the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act has opened the possibility of online casinos and poker rooms in West Virginia in 2020.

Read more on West Virginia Online Gambling

Online casinos in the US

New Jersey online casino

New Jersey currently stands tall as the leader in the online gambling USA space.

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.

There are now more online casinos in New Jersey than in any other state in the union. Almost every major casino operator owns a New Jersey-based online casino site.


Each online casino site must run through a land-based casino licensee. Here is the list of every New Jersey online casino:

NJ Casino SiteLand-Based Partner
888 USCaesars
Betfair NJGolden Nugget
Borgata OnlineBorgata
Caesars Casino OnlineCaesars
FanDuel CasinoBetFair
Golden NuggetGolden Nugget
Harrah’s Online CasinoHarrah’s
Mohegan Sun OnlineResorts
Pala Online CasinoBorgata
Party CasinoBorgata
Pokerstars NJ CasinoResorts
Resorts Online CasinoResorts
SugarHouse Online CasinoGolden Nugget
Tropicana OnlineTropicana
Tropicana OnlineTropicana
UnibetHard Rock AC
Virgin Online CasinoTropicana

Since the first site launched, online gaming revenues have steadily trended upward. The new market’s annual revenue breached the $130 million mark in its first full year of service, and reached revenues of $196.7 million in 2016.

The past two years, the industry has gained $50 million in revenue each year. Internet casinos in New Jersey nearly surpassed $300 million in 2018. Overall, online casinos have earned roughly $925 million in their five years of existence.

Online casino games available in New Jersey

Each online casino comes with hundreds of slot game options. In addition, there are several common table games available, including Video PokerBlackjackPai-Gow Poker, Hi-Lo Solitaire, Baccarat, Keno, Fortune Teller Keno, RouletteCasino hold’em, Three-card Poker, Let It Ride, Craps, 3 Wheel Roulette, Poker Bet, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em.

Several online casinos also feature live dealer games. These games allow players to interact directly with flesh-and-blood dealers in Atlantic City gaming studios. They can provide a far more immersive experience than typical online games.

Pennsylvania online casino

Pennsylvania legalized online casinos in 2017. There are no online casinos active in Pennsylvania right now, however, the current official launch date is July 2019.

By virtue of the law, 13 casino operators with operations or planned operations in Pennsylvania had the ability to apply for licenses to offer online slots, online table games, and online poker. Each license cost $4 million, although the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) offered a one-time package deal for $10 million initially.

Nine of the operators ponied up for the package deal, although one casino ultimately rescinded its offer. Two more applied after the deadline, bringing the total number of operators with online casino licenses to 10. They are:

CasinoOfficial Partnerships
Parx CasinoGAN
Harrah's Philadelphia888
Mount Airy Casino888/PokerStars
Hollywood Casino at Penn NationalIGT
Sands BethlehemN/A
SugarHouse CasinoRush Street Interactive/Kambi
Valley Forge CasinoIGT/GAN
Mohegan Sun Pocono*N/A
Presque Isle Downs**Golden Nugget
Live! Philadelphia Casino***N/A

*Mohegan Sun Pocono paid for all three licenses after package offer expired and spent $2 million extra. However, it later rescinded its application for online poker and received a $4 million refund.

**Presque Isle Downs only applied for online slots and table games licenses

***Live! Philadelphia Casino (also known as Stadium Casino) has no physical location – plans to build the south Philadelphia casino property have been delayed until 2020 because of new ownership.

That meant that the online casino licenses for Rivers Casino, Meadows Casino, and Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort lay unused. As a result, the PGCB allowed outside operators to submit applications for certification as qualified gaming entities (QGE).

These QGEs would then be able to petition for the vacant licenses. Two companies, MGM and Golden Nugget, received their certification in January 2019. They both intend on establishing a presence with an online casino in Pennsylvania.

Delaware online casino

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 racinos. So, gamblers can find online casinos at the sites for:

  • Delaware Park
  • Dover Downs
  • Harrington Raceway

These sites offer a variety of blackjack, roulette, slots and video poker games.

Much like the state itself, the Delaware market is relatively small. In 2018, the three online casinos combined to earn roughly $2.6 million in revenues.

Of the three, Delaware Park is the busiest site. It consistently outperforms the other two casinos in terms of handle, and almost always retains a higher amount of revenue.

Nevada online casino

One might think that the land-based casino capital of the US would be the online casino leader. However, the Silver State has only a limited presence in the online sphere.

In fact, the sum total of online gambling in Nevada boils down to a single online poker site. At this point, only WSOP NV is active in the state.

However, if there’s only room for one site, WSOP is a pretty good one to have. WSOP pools its players with those from New Jersey and Delaware to create a solid pool of opponents. Players can win actual WSOP bracelets from tournaments directly on the site, as well as entries into the live events.

West Virginia online casino

West Virginia became the fifth state to legalize online casinos in March 2019. The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act authorized the state’s five casinos to pursue the development of casino and poker apps.

So, potentially, there could be five online casinos and/or poker rooms in West Virginia soon. The five casinos are:

  • The Casino Club at Greenbrier Resort
  • Hollywood Casino Charles Town
  • Mardi Gras Casino
  • The Mountaineer Hotel, Casino, and Resort
  • Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack

There is no specific timeframe for any of these properties to launch their sites. Regulations for online gambling are not expected before 2020, so a launch could not happen before then.

Legal online sports betting in the US

The legal situation surrounding sports betting in the US underwent a radical change in 2018. The US Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was unconstitutional.

Due to the decision, any state could potentially offer sports betting to its inhabitants. So far, more than a dozen are either actively allowing sports betting or have legalized it and are hammering out the final details.

As far as the online sports betting component goes, these states are either offering it currently or making plans to offer it. They are:

NJ sports betting apps

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 10 land-based sportsbooks and 13 online sportsbook betting apps up and running in the state. The online sportsbooks are listed below:

Online and mobile betting apps

Online SportsbookLand-Based Affiliate
DraftKings Sportsbook Resorts AC
FanDuel Sportsbook Meadowlands
William HillGolden Nugget AC
888 sportsbook Caesars AC
playMGMBorgata AC
CaesarsHarrah's, Bally's, Caesars AC
BetStarsResorts AC
PlaySugarHouseMonmouth Park
ResortsResorts AC
Hard RockHard Rock AC
Golden NuggetGolden Nugget

In January 2019, New Jersey accepted over $304 million in wagers. That figure translated into over $15 million in revenue for the various locations around the state.

The inaugural year for sports betting in New Jersey, 2018, yielded bettors who placed over $1.2 billion in wagers. From that figure, the industry itself held just over $94 million in revenue for the year.

Online sports betting has eclipsed retail wagering in New Jersey by an almost 3:1 ratio. The limited accessibility of the state’s gaming areas makes betting through a device a much more palatable option for most residents and visitors.

PA sports betting apps

After some months of delays, Pennsylvania finally launched sports betting in November 2018Eight retail sportsbook locations have opened in the state.

However, the big question in the Keystone State is about the imminent launch of online sportsbooks and mobile sports betting apps. We finally have an answer: May 2019.

Sugarhouse Sportsbook launched as the first online sports betting site in Pennsylvania on May 31, 2019. We expect more sportsbook to launch in June and July:

Mobile SportsbookOperator/Tech platform
Harrah's PhiladelphiaScientific Games
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race CourseWilliam Hill
Parx CasinoKambi
Presque Isle Downs CasinoSBTech/IGT
Rivers CasinoKambi
SugarHouse CasinoKambi
Valley Forge CasinoFanDuel

All seven of these casinos have their approvals from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in hand. However, the operators are delaying any kind of movement toward launch until they have better information about the Department of Justice opinion about the Wire Act.

As for retail locations, there are now eight sportsbooks active in PA. They are:

  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Hollywood Casino
  • Parx Casino
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Rivers Casino
  • South Philadelphia Turf Club*
  • Valley Forge Casino
  • Valley Forge Turf Club*

*Off-track betting locations that now offer wagering on sports. Both locations are owned and operated by Greenwood Gaming, owner of Parx Casino.

WV sports betting apps

West Virginia began to offer sports betting on Aug. 30, 2018. Hollywood Casino Charles Town soft-launched its sportsbook and officially opened two days later.

Since then, the other four casinos in the state have each opened their own sports betting locations. However, the most notable aspect of West Virginia’s entry into the market is its foray into the online space.

CasinoOnline Sportsbook partner
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town RacesDraftKings (coming soon)
The GreenbrierFanDuel (coming soon)
Mardi Gras Casino and Resort (operations suspended)BetLucky (operations suspended)
Wheeling Island Hotel (operations suspended)BetLucky (operations suspended)
Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort FanDuel (coming soon)


Along with New Jersey, West Virginia was the only state home to a fully-functioning online sportsbook. Delaware North, the parent company of Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack and Mardi Gras Casino, launched BetLucky in December 2018.

Unfortunately, due to a dispute with strategic partner Miomni, Delaware North has indefinitely suspended operations at BetLucky as of March 2019. It is unlikely that operations on the app will return.

DraftKings Sportsbook

DraftKings is working to bring its popular sportsbook app to West Virginia in the very near future.

DraftKings reached a partnership deal with Hollywood Casino Charles Town back in December 2018. Now, the daily fantasy sports provider is in the process of securing licensure from the West Virginia Lottery.

According to Legal Sports Report, the West Virginia version of the app will retain all the functionality that DraftKings’ New Jersey version possesses. So, bettors in the Mountain State will soon be able to use the customized betting carousel and revolutionary live ticket system to step up their games.

Retail sportsbooks in West Virginia

Otherwise, Mountain State bettors can head to one of the in-state casinos to place a sports bet. They are:

  • Hollywood Casino Charles Town
  • FanDuel Sportsbook at Greenbrier Resort
  • Mountaineer Hotel, Casino & Resort
  • Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack (retail sportsbook operations currently suspended)
  • Mardi Gras Casino (retail sportsbook operations currently suspended)

Nevada sports betting apps

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 the years of PASPA’s implementation, 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:

Mobile SportsbookOperator/Tech platform
Atlantis RenoMiomni
CG TechnologyInnovative Gaming Solutions
South PointWilliam Hill
Station CasinoMiomni
William HillWilliam Hill

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

  • Westgate
  • Station Casinos – 7 casinos
  • CG Technology – 8 casinos
  • Caesars – 13 casinos
  • MGM Resorts International – 10 casinos
  • William Hill
  • Boyd Gaming – 9 casinos

Mississippi sports betting apps

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

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

As it happens, Pearl River Resort appears to be moving down that path for its clients. The resort, which is a unique property that features three onsite casinos amid several acres, is working to provide an onsite betting app.

According to reports, resort management wants the app in order to allow customers to avoid some of the long lines that have appeared at the physical sportsbook. The app will also allow the sportsbook to offer a wider variety of betting styles, including more granular in-play bets.

On the retail side of things, there are 23 sportsbooks in the state. Some locations include:

  • Beau Rivage (Biloxi)
  • Gold Strike (Tunica)
  • Sam’s Town (Tunica)
  • IP Casino (Biloxi)
  • Hollywood Gulf Coast (Biloxi)
  • Resorts Casino (Tunica)

Rhode Island Sports Betting Apps

Gov. Gina Raimondo signed S 37 into law, which added a mobile component to the existing sports betting offering in the state.

There are two casinos active in Rhode Island. They are:

  • Twin River Lincoln
  • Twin River Tiverton

Both casinos are owned by Twin River Worldwide Holdings and both now offer both a retail sportsbook and an online betting option.

Indiana sports betting apps

Indiana launched online sports betting on October 3, not too long after its retail sportsbooks officially opened for business.

The two currently live are:

  • DraftKings Sportsbook
  • BetRivers Sportsbook

Online 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 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: 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.


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, Nevada launched in September of that same year and quickly became market leaders. 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 in Nevada.


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.


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.


West Virginia legalized online poker in March 2019. By virtue of the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, the five casinos in the state will be able to launch online poker apps in the near future.

So, the following properties will potentially have their own sites soon:

  • The Casino Club at Greenbrier Resort
  • Hollywood Casino Charles Town
  • Mardi Gras Casino
  • The Mountaineer Hotel, Casino, and Resort
  • Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack

The law specifies that officials must write regulations in 2020. So, next year is the earliest time that an online poker site could launch in the state.

Still, there’s no denying that there are now five states with online poker.

US Online Lottery


The Georgia Lottery Corporation allows residents to play online from anywhere in Georgia. Players can buy tickets for draw games, including Fantasy 5, Mega MillionsPowerball. 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 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.


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 PowerballMega MillionsLotto 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 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.


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.


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.

What states might introduce online gambling next?


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, thanks largely to the entrance of sports betting into the conversation. With that said, the political complexity of gambling expansion in Illinois also provides a reason to temper enthusiasm about the chances for online gambling in the state.

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


Indiana launched online sports betting on October 3, 2019, but it will probably be quite a bit longer before online casino and poker come to the state.

With that said, we do believe that a state authorizing one form of online gambling does make it more likely that the state will authorize additional forms of online gambling in time. That means that the move to authorize online sports betting in numerous states – including Indiana – does have an overall positive effect on the chances for legal online casino and online poker in those states.


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. 

Online gambling has been a steady part of the political conversation in Massachusetts for the last several years, but has always come up short. Interest in bringing online sports betting to the state may well provide the final push, although it’s possible that – as may be the case in many states – that online sports betting could move ahead without online casino or poker.


Michigan is arguably the closest of any state in this list, at least in technical terms. Lawmakers actually passed an online gambling bill covering casino, sports, and poker in the waning days of the 2018 session, only to see the Governor veto the bill.

But with the framework for an otherwise-successful legislative effort still in place, it’s likely we’ll see a renewed push for regulated online gambling this year. Of course, having stakeholders on the same page once doesn’t guarantee you’ll get them there again.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire already has an online lottery program and is moving aggressively ahead with a plan to bring sports betting online. We think there’s a good chance that online casino could follow before too long should the sports betting initiative prove successful.

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.

The current focus of New York lawmakers appears to have turned to sports betting, raising the possibility that online poker will be left behind. Online casino has never been a serious part of the legislative conversation in Albany.

Currently, legislation passed to allow sports betting at New York’s four commercial casinos. It’s currently under a 60-day public comment period. If there are no major objections, betting will be available just as football season kicks off. Mobile and online sports betting, however, is off the table for now.

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.

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.

In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, which ignited a wave of interest across several states in authorizing sports betting, including online sports betting.

In early 2019, the DOJ released a revised Wire Act opinion. The impacts of that new opinion on legal online gambling remain unclear.

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