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Understanding Online Gambling Laws in the United States in 2024

By Justinas Bėčius
Patchwork is the word to use when describing the online gambling laws in the United States. Gambling laws in the US vary from state to state. Some states fully allow various casino games, including online casino and poker. On the other hand, other states have stricter regulations with corresponding bans and punishments. This guide accurately details the US's legal sports betting and gambling laws. You'll also discover future trends that could impact the industry beyond 2024.
Understanding Online Gambling Laws in the United States in 2024

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Explaining the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) did not stop online casinos and gambling.

It made it harder for online gambling sites to collect payments. If the transactions are deemed illegal under state or federal law, online casinos can’t proceed with the payment. This made online casinos (and their players) think twice before engaging in any gambling activity.

The UIGEA has been enforced since 2006. It is illegal for persons and businesses to process payments that are unlawful in the place where the gambler or the website is located. You can’t use any electronic payment system (like credit cards or bank transfers), too.

Here are the key provisions and restrictions imposed by UIGEA:

  • Payment regulation: Banks and credit card companies should block illegal online gambling transactions. Transparency of financial records became a requirement for online casinos and gambling companies.
  • Penalties: UIGEA authorizes federal and state authorities to impose violation penalties, which could include fines, imprisonment, and asset forfeiture.
  • Scope and control: UIGEA only covers operations of financial institutions within the US. This means that individual states can still decide on their internet gambling regulations.

UIGEA forced states to implement their own legal online gambling regulations. This forced several operators to expand to markets outside the US.

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Federal vs. State Jurisdiction in Online Gambling

UIGEA was the federal government’s major initiative. However, it only cut off money flow and imposed financial restrictions.

Even the Federal Wire Act of 1961 did not dampen the market. It only prohibited using wire communications facilities to transmit bets, wagers, and information. In short, the Federal Wire Act and UIGEA only made operations more difficult. These laws didn’t necessarily shut down casinos and online gambling platforms.

State governments remain in control of legalizing online gambling operations. They have the authority to allow different forms of online gambling or iGaming, including online casinos, online poker, online sports betting, and fantasy sports.

Gambling laws vary from state to state. Each state differs in the following elements:

  • Types of games allowed
  • Geolocation restrictions
  • Payments processing platforms
  • Operation licensing requirements

Multiple forms of gambling are already picking up steam. It won’t come as a surprise if more states in the US allow online betting.

Locker with poker chips and cards

Full List of States Where iGaming Is Legal

Several states in the US have already legalized iGaming in their respective areas. These states are composed of the following:

  • New Jersey
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

State-by-State Variations in Online Gambling Laws

Each state has its unique variation of legal online gambling. Read about state-by-state gambling laws in the next sections.

Gambling Law with Poker chips

Nevada: The hub for online casinos

When you think of Nevada, you might imagine an atmosphere filled with cards, poker chips, and casino games. That is mostly true, as Nevada is known to be the first state to legalize gambling in the US.

While Nevada is mostly known for its in-person casinos, its stance on online gambling is mixed. In 2010, Nevada legalized sports betting on online platforms. After three years, it started offering regulated online poker.

However, Nevada has yet to legalize online casino gaming. The state prohibits online operators from offering games like slots, roulette, and blackjack.

In context, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) regulates and oversees online gambling in the state. The NGCB might be preserving the state’s brick-and-mortar (or in-person) casino gambling industry.

Here’s a breakdown of NGCB’s regulations:

  • Licensing: Every operator should undergo and pass NGCB’s licensing application process.
  • Location: All players must be physically located within Nevada to participate in online poker and place sports bets.
  • Age: The NGCB requires a minimum gambling age of 21 for both online and in-person sports betting.
  • Player pool: Available online poker games may be limited due to Nevada’s “closed ecosystem” rule. Poker players can only compete against people physically located in the state.

These regulations and requirements might change over time. Make sure to visit NGCB’s official website for updates. Paying attention to these updates will ensure you’re not violating any regulations.

Nevada state Legal for Gambling

New Jersey: Pioneering online gambling legislation

New Jersey is one of the states in the US that has taken a more progressive approach to online gambling.

This state is known for having one of the least (if not the least) restrictive gambling law frameworks. In 2013, former Governor Chris Christie signed a bill to legalize online gambling.

Here are the online betting and gambling games that New Jersey allows:

  • Classic casino games: A regulated online casino in the state can offer blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, and video poker.
  • Slots: There’s also a diverse array of slot machines with games like Big Catch Bass Fishing, Gold Cherry, Triple Gold Bars, and Dancing Drums.
  • Poker: A legal online casino in New Jersey can launch various tournaments and cash games in online poker.
  • Live dealer games: Players can interact with online live dealers for games like blackjack and roulette.
  • Sports betting: Online sportsbooks can offer wagers on sporting events. This includes professional and amateur sports, plus international competitions.

Online casinos must undergo a rigorous licensing process to operate legally in the state. This process is supervised by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE). An online casino operator is required to submit the following requirements:

  • Operational plans
  • Financial assessments
  • Background checks

To open an online casino in New Jersey, visit the NJDGE’s website to learn about its gaming regulations.
New Jersey state Legal for Gambling

Other states and their approaches

Nevada and New Jersey aren’t the only states with varying laws. Other states in the US have different variations of betting and gambling regulations.

Here’s a quick overview of the legal online casino and gambling games that these states allow:

  • Connecticut: This state allowed online casinos and betting in 2021. DraftKings and Mohegan Sun are the two licensed online casinos in Connecticut.
  • Delaware: In 2013, Delaware became one of the first states to legalize online casinos, sports betting, and poker.
  • Michigan: This state legalized online casinos, poker, and sports betting in 2019.
  • Pennsylvania: It was in 2019 when Pennsylvania launched online casinos, poker, and sports betting.
  • Rhode Island: In 2024, this state became the most recent area to legalize sports betting and Daily Fantasy Sports on online platforms. It is also expected to launch online casinos in April 2024.
  • West Virginia: In 2019, West Virginia became one of the recent states to legalize online sports betting and online casinos.

These states differ not only on the types of online casinos and gambling. They also share common denominators, such as age verification, geolocation, and consumer protection.

Regulations on how to safely gamble online change by the day, too. We recommend staying updated on these regulations to ensure you’re on the safe side.

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Recent Developments and Updates in Gambling Regulations

The gambling industry is undergoing major developments by the day. Here are recent significant movements in the US online gambling market:

  • The online gambling market is expected to grow at an 8.86% CAGR (2024-2029), and revenue will skyrocket to US$35.21 billion by 2029.
  • Nevada just set a gaming revenue record of US$15.5 billion in 2023. NGCB reported this annual revenue record.
  • New York and Kentucky could be next in line to legalize online casinos. Eyes are focused on New York, a big city with a large market.
  • The NJDGE will enforce stricter measures on gaming revenue transparency in New Jersey. The state is set to monitor revenue reports from individual operators.
  • Hard Rock Digital (HRD) agrees to acquire the US B2C assets of 888 Holdings, a large betting and gaming company with major brands.

Regulated online casinos are picking up steam but are not the primary focus for now. Legal sports betting is still the primary driver across legal gambling markets in the US. People can place sports bets on their favorite teams, and horse racing gambling is now legal in 41 states.

Moreover, we may also see governing bodies doubling down on consumer protection. Many online casino options are still available in the black market. This will pose a big risk to consumers.

Regulations written on notepad

Future Trends and Predictions in iGaming Regulations

The Illegal Gambling Business Act was enforced in 1955, almost 70 years ago. The legal online casino and gambling services market has evolved since. Today, there’s a steady increase in the number of online casinos.

The gambling landscape is nearly seeing a 180-degree turn. Here are possible trends that will tilt the rope even more in favor of online casino and iGaming:

  • Mobile sports betting: Expect more states to legalize mobile sports wagering. In addition, more companies will invest in mobile casino gambling apps. Mobile casino apps will dominate both the US and global markets.
  • Overturning of outdated laws: We’ll see more federal betting laws invalidated. The Supreme Court overturned the Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018. Expect more of these movements in the coming years.
  • Increase in online gambling advertising: Expect an increase in betting sponsorships and ads. iGaming organizations and websites will leverage this to their advantage.

Betting and gambling will become more accessible to the public. To this point, each state might ramp up consumer protection regulations. Online gaming brands might have to implement stricter measures to protect consumer privacy.

Sports Betting Live on Phone as background

Tips for Running a Business in the iGaming or Sports Betting Industry

We’ve seen federal regulations against gambling overturned. Still, running an online casino isn’t easy nowadays.

If you’re planning to enter the online casino gambling scene, here are several business challenges that you’ll face:

  • Customer acquisition and retention: Leveraging data analytics to stand out from the competition. Use data to customize casino marketing campaigns for your online gaming and casino platform.
  • Evolving regulations: Always have lawyers or a legal team available. This ensures that your iGaming platform always adheres to the regulations.
  • Money laundering prevention: Different forms of online gaming are vulnerable to threats. These situations come in the form of cybersecurity issues, fraud, and money laundering. You should invest in anti-fraud technology and other software to avoid fraudulent schemes.
  • Responsible gambling: Offer resources that will help players overcome their gambling addiction. You can partner with support organizations or write related content on your website.

Sure, there are many online casino options today. The good news is there are ways for your legal gambling business to stand out. Most gambling businesses now partner with marketing experts. This collaboration can help them launch a long-term sports betting marketing campaign.

For example, you can join a digital marketing agency like Fortis Media. These experts are adept at strategizing SEO campaigns. In turn, your online casino will see an organic increase in visibility on search engines.

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iGaming Regulations in the US: Key Takeaways

Undoubtedly, the US iGaming market is positioned for monumental growth. Take the example of a global sports league like the NBA (National Basketball Association). They are already driving sports betting across all their platforms.

Expect online casinos to ramp up marketing efforts with other forms of online play and gambling gaining traction. The public continues to accept (and take advantage of) the influence of betting. We will see more sponsorships and advertisements coming from these betting platforms. Paid ads are effective to only a certain extent, though.

Organic growth is the way to go if you’re in the online casino market. SEO is the way to drive traffic to your casino brand naturally. You can link up with digital marketing experts like Fortis Media or assemble an in-house marketing team.

FAQs About Gambling Regulations in the US

  • What are the 3 types of gambling?

    The three main types of gambling are casino gambling, sports betting, and state lottery games. There are specific games for each main category. Casino games are composed of slot machines, roulette, blackjack, craps, baccarat, poker, and other live dealer games.

  • What is considered online gambling?

    Online gambling refers to any form of gambling that occurs on the Internet. This process involves wagering money or other capital on an uncertain outcome to win more money and other prizes. Examples of online gambling include online casinos, daily fantasy sports, and lottery games.

  • Which federal law regulates online gaming?

    Online gaming is regulated by three main federal laws: the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), The Wire Act, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The Federal Wire Act is one of the older federal statutes, while the UIGEA is a recent law that regulates financial transactions.

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