Legal Gambling in the USA – The Current State of Affairs
Gambling, and especially US online casinos, are seeing a massive increase over recent years. The United States is at the forefront of this movement having a vast number of companies that are competing against each other for a market share. However, they are also famous for heavily regulating every industry within the country and changing/improving the laws every year. The ever-changing ecosystem requires gamblers to stay updated on the latest information if they want to gamble legally.
One would expect the federal government to reign supreme over online gambling within the USA. That is only partly the case because each state has the power to allow, disallow, or restrict both land-based and online gambling. Before you head over to your favorite online casino you need to make sure that you aren’t breaking any laws.
Each state has different laws that might prove confusing and when coupled with the federal government laws the confusion intensifies. The state laws tend to be vague and interpretable, which allows judges to base their decisions on feelings and subjectivism. We are going to take a closer look at the laws of each state and find out if legal gambling is possible where you reside. But first, let’s focus on the Federal Laws.
Federal Law Evolution
As soon as online gambling became a thing it had to follow Federal Law. Interestingly, some of the laws that preceded online gambling had to be followed retroactively. The Federal WireAct was the first such law that touched on gambling. The aforementioned law was not meant to interact with online gambling, but it became applicable afterward due to the way it was redacted. The law stated that anyone placing a wager or bet with the aid of wire communication would face imprisonment of no more than 2 years.
In 2011, there was a very important change to the Federal Wire Act. This change gave every state more authority and the option to decide how they want to handle online gambling. This resulted in the decriminalization of various forms of gambling that have been illegal in the past. Meaning that the Department of Justice won’t prosecute those that are engaging in online casino gambling be it poker, bingo, lottery, or slots. This didn’t apply to online sports betting which remained illegal.
State Level Laws and Regulations
As mentioned above, with the change of the Federal Wire act, every state could regulate online gambling as needed. They had the right to draw and enforce their own laws. Each state could prohibit its residents from various forms of online gambling. Most states, but not all, have immediately adopted the Dominant Factor Test that was used to assess social gambling. The test was intended to determine if the gambling activity is based on chance. If luck was a larger factor than skill, it would be considered that the gambling activity would violate the law. If skill is needed to win at a specific game, it wouldn’t be considered a law violation in most states. Not all states have adopted the Dominant Factor Test and we will take a closer look at which do or don’t.
New Jersey Online Gambling
New Jersey is the leader when it comes to online gambling within the USA. The law that allowed online gambling was passed in 2013 and allowed land-based Atlantic City casinos to have online gambling permits. This caused New Jersey to have the most online casinos operating and any major gambling operator now owns a New Jersey licensed online casino.
Pennsylvania Online Gambling
In Pennsylvania, the gambling expansion law was passed in 2017 making online gambling legal. In July 2019 major casino operators opened for business and the number of online casinos available for residents of Pennsylvania has only grown.
West Virginia Online Gambling
West Virginia is the fifth state to legalize online gambling, back in 2019. The online casinos have been operational since July 2020 and the scene has been growing ever since.
Nevada Online Gambling
You would expect Nevada, the land-based casino epicenter, to also have a large number of online casinos. However, that is not the case. But gamblers from Nevada are indeed allowed to gamble online if they would rather not walk to the nearest land-based casino.
Delaware Online Gambling
Delaware is the first state that legalized online casinos back in 2012. Residents can enjoy slots or video poker ever since November 2013 when three online casinos were launched.
Michigan Online Gambling
Michigan is one of the latest states that has made online casinos legal. The law that allowed online gambling was passed on the 20th of December 2020. January 2021 brought with it the launch of over 15 online casinos.
We have focused on online casino legality and the abovementioned states have already made it legal. Some other states offer either online sports betting or online poker or both. The COVID-19 epidemic has put a halt to any attempts from other states to make online gambling legal. However, this only touches on online casinos that are licensed within a specific state. The nature of the laws from every state leaves room for interpretation and consists of a grey area. This means that you could still be enjoying online gambling on offshore casinos that aren’t licensed in the USA.
Legal Offshore Casinos and Staying Safe
There are no local or Federal Laws that have jurisdiction over legal casinos licensed offshore. Washington is the only state where it is illegal to gamble on offshore casinos. Other than for the residents of Washington, placing bets on offshore casinos is not illegal. This is valid for offshore poker sites and sportsbooks as well. Offshore casinos that hold a license have to abide by the rules and regulations imposed by the state that issued the license. This means that there are plenty of online offshore casinos that have been operating on the US market for decades and have remained reputable ever since.
However, there are several issues when trying to play on such casinos that stem from the lack of adequate deposit methods. While you may be able to make a deposit using your US-issued credit card you will have to wait for lengthy periods, sometimes weeks, until the international bank transfer processes. Another issue is the fact that credit card issuers are collecting large fees for such deposits and withdrawals.
Cryptocurrency as a Solution
Cryptocurrency appears to be the perfect solution both for deposits and withdrawals with offshore casinos. The method offers the same conditions regardless of what offshore casino you choose to deposit with. The cryptocurrency blockchain transactions take only a few minutes to complete and don’t have any fees attached to them. Some casinos might collect a fee for deposits and withdrawals using Bitcoin but it’s a rarity. On top of that, you will benefit from a much larger bonus than with traditional deposit methods from most casinos out there. This is because offshore casinos have ongoing promotions that reward deposits with Bitcoin with much higher bonus matches.
Cryptocurrency – Anonymity and Privacy
Cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals come with another major advantage over traditional methods – your identity remains hidden. This is even more important if you will be gambling on an offshore casino. When you deposit using Bitcoin, there is no personal data submitted to the operator, which means that identity theft is no longer possible. The only possible way your Bitcoin wallet and identity would be compromised is if you engage in fraudulent activities.
There are even cryptocurrency-only casinos that don’t require that you create an account on their website. If you opt for such a casino you wouldn’t even have to register to make a deposit. This would be the best-case scenario if you need your identity protected at all costs.
There are however some disadvantages that need to be considered when using Bitcoin. The high Bitcoin volatility is highly relevant because its value tends to fluctuate greatly. This could translate to your currency losing value before you even get to enjoy the casino games. However, this could also work to your advantage and you would end up playing with even more funds. Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, are in their infancy and some of their features are still under development. As the user base grows they will become more polished and an even more appealing option.
At the moment online gambling in the USA resides in a grey area. American gamblers have the choice of placing online bets with offshore casinos without any legal repercussions. We have covered all the relevant information regarding the current state of online gambling in the USA and offered valid solutions so that you can conduct your gambling as safely as possible while maintaining your privacy. If you have positive or negative experiences with offshore casinos let us know in the comments so that our readers can receive information from first-hand experience.