With all the high profile legal reforms hitting the headlines on the subject of gambling, there is a perception, both within the USA and overseas, that the spirit of Las Vegas has spread across the land from coast to coast. The truth is a little different. More than 30 states have now legalized sports betting, and in all but a handful of cases, that extends to placing wagers online. Yet where casino gaming is concerned, it is a different story.
In fact, only six states have passed legislation making it legal to operate an online casino within their borders. Despite this, many players still gamble with their luck to play jackpot games online. Here, we’ll take a look at which states they are, whether others are likely to join them and exactly where individuals stand if they want to log on to a casino to try their luck.
Which states have legalized?
In the early days of the internet, online casinos were prohibited under the Wire Act. Then in 2011, lottery officials from New York and Illinois requested a clarification from the DoJ, as they wished to sell lottery tickets online. The answer gave them all that and more, as the DoJ ruled that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting. It opened the door to most forms of casino gaming, as well as lotteries and poker.
Only six states have chosen to pass through that door, however and to legalize either online casino games, online poker or both. These are Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Will more states legalize online casinos?
Public consensus and potential tax dollars are powerful political drivers, which is why so many states have legalized sports betting. But online casinos have proved to be more controversial from a political standpoint. Florida online gambling is a case in point. While Floridians can freely visit whatever online casinos they wish, the plan to launch web-based gambling operations within state was frozen when it had barely started due to wrangling between the Senate, the Seminole tribe and the pari-mutuels.
Similar issues exist in California, which would otherwise be a likely candidate for legalization. As things stand, New York, Illinois and Indiana are probably the three states most likely to push through legislation over the next 12 months.
Still plenty of options for gamblers
All this is highly frustrating for gambling businesses hoping to launch online operations across the United States, and for state officials who see the potential for millions of tax dollars. But for players themselves, it is only a minor inconvenience. The law applies to operating online casinos, not to playing at them, and there are dozens of offshore platforms that American citizens can visit without breaking any laws.
The potential inconvenience is that banks in most states are prohibited from facilitating this activity. This means gamblers cannot make direct deposits and withdrawals, but instead use alternative payment methods. Bitcoin is rapidly becoming the method of choice, and a growing number of offshore crypto casinos are actively pitching the US market.