Online gambling platforms like online casinos and sports betting websites are gaining quite a lot of traction in recent years, as millions of people around the world are becoming familiar with online gambling and trying out various casinos and sportsbooks on the web. While online gambling is becoming more known around the world, there are still several countries that haven’t legalized online casinos and digital sportsbooks yet in their entirety, and one of those countries is the United States.
The US can be quite strict when it comes to giving out gambling licenses and permission to casinos and sportsbooks, and because online gambling is a platform that just blew up in popularity in recent years, the US gambling agencies are still figuring out how to properly legalize online casinos and betting websites. However, there are now a few states in the US that legalize online gambling and iGaming, and they will surely be followed by other states in the future. Here are several details about the states that are set to follow in the legalization of iGaming in the US.
Which US States Legalize iGaming?
As of 2022, there are only seven states that legalized online casinos in the United States. Most of these states already have a larger consumer base for gambling, so it is not surprising if they have already legalized online casinos. If you want to try online gambling, finding the best online casino in those states is relatively easy today. Here are the states that made iGaming or online casinos legal for their residents.
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey were the first states that legalized online casino games, and then they were soon followed by Pennsylvania in 2017. West Virginia would legalize online casinos in 2017, while Michigan would do the same in 2021. It is highly believed that many more states will soon follow the steps of the seven states we have mentioned above, as online gambling is becoming a profitable industry or platform today. Some of the states that are highly likely to legalize online casinos in the near future are California, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York.
Which US States Legalize Online Sports Betting?
While the legalization of iGaming and online casinos are still subject to debate in various US states, online sports betting remains unexplored, although it is legal where physical sports betting establishments are legal. So, if your state has several land-based sportsbooks, then you should expect that online sports betting is legal too. Here is the list of states that legalized online sports betting.
- Florida (still in litigation)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- Washington DC
- West Virginia
As evident on this list, sports betting, in general, is pretty much legal in almost all states in the US. But, there are still a few states on the list that have already passed laws that legalized forms of sports betting but are yet to have sportsbooks in the cities or towns that they occupy.
Why Is the Legalization Process of iGaming Slow in the US?
There are various reasons why a lot of US states have a slow legalization process when it comes to iGaming or online casinos, and these reasons are connected to the existing laws that prohibit non-land-based gambling in general. Here are the laws that affect online gambling and iGaming in the United States.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 or UIGEA
This law prohibits offshore betting sites and online casinos from accepting American customers or players on their platforms. This basically means that casinos and sportsbooks that are not registered or licensed by the US government are not allowed to operate within the country.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act or PASPA
Within this law, it is stated that all states in the US except Nevada are prohibited from legalizing traditional sports wagering or betting. While this law was active, there were a few states that were allowed to create limited forms of betting, although Nevada was still able to create a monopoly in the betting industry since the said state is the only one allowed to operate a sportsbook.
Because of how unfair and unconstitutional this law is for many states in the US, it was eventually abolished in 2018. The abolishment of the law allowed US states to legalize and open land-based sportsbooks. It also led to the creation of various online sportsbooks that can be accessed through websites or apps on smartphones.
The Interstate Wire Act of 1961
This law was passed in 1961 as a way to eliminate the sports betting organizations that were operated by mafia groups in the United States. These organizations were often running through “wire communications” like telephones and other devices used for communication. Because of how vague the concept of “wire communications,” the Interstate Wire Act also prohibits the use of the internet for sports betting. Fortunately, this law was revised in 2011 to be more specific in what it is supposed to prohibit.
Interestingly, the revision of the Interstate Wire Act in 2011 also enabled the US Department of Justice to specify that the law only applies to sports betting and not to other forms of online gambling. With the revision, US states are now allowed to create, regulate, and legalize online casinos and other forms or types of online gambling that were once banned. By 2018, online sports betting also became more available thanks to the abolishment of the PASPA.
Unfortunately, the Department of Justice recommended in 2019 to go back to the original version of the Interstate Wire Act that prohibits all forms of online gambling. However, the recommendation is being debated upon until the early 2020s, although it is most likely that the Interstate Wire Act won’t be revised again, mainly due to the fact that a few US states have already established a platform of online gambling for their residents.