TechnologyWhich US States Have Legalized Online Gambling?
If you’re a gambling enthusiast who lives, works or visits the USA, you could be forgiven for becoming confused over the legislation surrounding online gambling in the country. Until 2011, things were pretty straightforward – there was a blanket ban on all forms of online wagering.
However, an appeal from the states of Illinois and New York to use the internet to sell lottery tickets lodged a query against the wording of the Wire Act. In response, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) ruled that "interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a 'sporting event or contest' fall outside the reach of the Wire Act".
Although the appeal was only initially intended to apply to lottery tickets, it opened the floodgates for several states to pass through legislation that legalized online gambling. In the intervening years, there have been further changes to both the interpretation of the Wire Act and the laws surrounding sports gambling, leaving US citizens scratching their heads. Here’s a rundown of which type of activity is allowed at the time of writing.
States which allow online casinos
In the immediate aftermath of the 2011 ruling on the Wire Act, several states scrambled to pass through legislation which would enable their citizens to visit online casinos. The first of these was New Jersey, which is home to the world-famous resort of Atlantic City, while Delaware followed not too far behind in November 2013.
Pennsylvania, which is currently one of the fastest growing states in terms of online gambling revenues, legalized the practice for domestic operators in July 2019, while West Virginia followed suit the next year. In January of 2021, Michigan became the latest state to do so as well and the Michigan online casino market has exploded ever since, with a plethora of sites launching within the few months of the ruling.
There are also a number of other states which are considering addressing online casino legislation in the near future. While nothing is set in stone, there is reason for optimism among the online gambling community in Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and South Dakota.
States which allow sports betting
Until fairly recently, the controversial Professional and Amateur Sports Protection (PASPA) prevented all but four states from operating sportsbooks within their borders. In fact, it was only Nevada which was allowed to authorize sports betting in its truest form, with Delaware and Oregon granted watered-down exemptions for so-called “sports lotteries” and Montana allowed not-for-profit sports betting syndicates.
However, all of that changed in May 2018, when the Supreme Court overruled PASPA and paved the way for other states to regulate sports betting. There was an immediate influx of activity, with almost 20 states now allowing the practice. These include, in alphabetical order, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Additionally, there are a number of other states which are in the process of considering whether to approve sports betting legislation. These include California, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts and Missouri, some of which may pass the relevant bills this year. Not all states are as supportive or as progressive in their views of the subject as others, though, so it remains to be seen whether they will swell the ranks of those which allow the practice.
How can I gamble if I live in other states?
Of course, there are fans of poker who live in a state which only allows sports betting, or, worse still, gambling aficionados who reside within a more conservative state which doesn’t allow any sort of wagering whatsoever. For those unfortunate people, it might feel like you have no recourse to enjoy yourself at an online casino, engage in a friendly game of poker or try your hand at predicting the outcome of a sporting event at all.
The best option in such a scenario is to simply cross state lines and visit a neighboring territory where the practice is legal. Given that online gambling is enjoying a rising tide of popularity (and legality) across the USA, there’s a good chance that online casinos are available in a jurisdiction near you.
For example, even states which have traditionally been considered highly conservative are changing their attitudes towards gambling online. One notable case in point is Virginia, where sports betting has been legalized online (but not yet in person). As such, sports enthusiasts who are looking to place a wager on their favorite team can visit a Virginia online sportsbook and indulge in their pastime, free from fear of recrimination.
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