Online Casino State of Affairs: Legality in United States

States that Allow Online Casino Gambling

Currently, only New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have online casino games live. Pennsylvania has instant games available on the PA Lottery website, which are essentially online scratcher games. However, it’s a threat enough for Pennsylvania casinos to sue the PA Lottery. It hasn’t impacted play yet, so play on.

New Jersey

New Jersey

Virtually all of the Atlanta City casinos have an online website or app for betting on Casino games. See our full list of recommended casinos!

Nevada

Nevada

The top Vegas casinos have mobile apps that can be legally played on when in Nevada. Read reviews and find exclusive bonus offers for signing up today!

StateCasinoOnline CasinoOnline Poker
AlabamaYNN
Delaware YYY
FloridaYNN
NevadaYNY
New JerseyYYY
PennsylvaniaYY (No Live Sites)Y (No Live Sites)

States that will likely take the Longest to enact Online Casino Regulation

Unfortunately, a number of states in the US seem to be stuck in the stone age. Whether it be a religious angle or just conservative lawmakers, these states haven’t made any form of online betting legal yet. It’s anyone guess when and if they will legalize online casinos.

StateCasinoOnline CasinoOnline Poker
AlaskaNNN
GeorgiaNNN
HawaiiNNN
Kentucky NNN
MontanaNNN
NebraskaNNN
New HampshireNNN
South CarolinaNNN
TennesseeNNN
UtahNNN
VermontNNN
VirginiaNNN

The Legal States

How it all Started: The Gambling Forerunners

The history of gambling in the United States is rich and complex and along this line, nothing more epitomizes it then the glitz and glamour of Nevada’s sprawling casinos. In February of 2013, the state finally made online gambling legal; of course, much to the delight of its venturous populace. By breaking new ground and implementing some of the most cutting edge gambling laws in the nation, Nevada was able to collect consistently large earnings from the mammoth business through the various taxes and charges. Also back in February of 2013, New Jersey signed into law its own legalization of online casino betting. Governor Chris Christie signed the bill, A2578, with substantial bipartisan support: a rarity today. After months of tests and trials, online gambling officially kickstarted on November 26, 2013. In conjunction with the New Jersey Constitution, all online gaming servers must reside in Atlantic City itself. Similar to Nevada, the reasoning behind the forthcoming rules and regulations were threefold: for the state to collect revenue through taxes, to support New Jersey’s land based casinos, and in order to provide a legitimate legal gambling experience.

Difficulty Arises

Not all states were as quick to legalizing online gambling as Nevada and New Jersey as it took five whole years of discussion and deliberation for Pennsylvania to legalize online wagering. As bill H271 was invoked, the rust belt state was enveloped by tons of newfound revenue encroaching upon nearly $125 million in its first year alone. Most significantly for Pennsylvania specifically, the newly legal online casino business helped alleviate concerns that the states land based casino enterprise would fall victim to the competition of booming neighboring states. In a way, it would give the state a leg up as it rivals competition by providing another source of gambling revenue interdependent of the brick and mortar casinos readily abundant in the Keystone state. Mississippi’s gambling history is nothing short of rich and far reaching. In fact, it’s been said that Native Americans gambled regularly on such things as card games and horse races long before Mississippi was actually a settled state. Eventually, in 2017, daily sports betting was legalized. Bill H967 was generally vague, almost intentionally to avoid further scrutiny, but nonetheless got the job done for gambling stands. A regulatory framework was added following the passage of the bill in 2017, and executive director Allen Godfrey has gone on the record stating that those who participate in unregulated, illicit gambling are being arrested to this day.

Small States, Big Money

Moving on, following the passion of bill S415 in 2018, online casino betting became legal in West Virginia. The bill was passed after years of attempts by delegate Shawn Fluharty, and public support from attorney general Patrick Morrissey. The mountain state is hoping to have its online betting platform up and running before the start of football season in September. This past June, the smallest state in the nation, Rhode Island, legalized sports gambling themselves. The bill was passed strikingly by both the House and the Senate to the likes of 66-7 and 34-2 respectively. However, the bill only legalized land based sports betting, but similar to other states, online gambling will be legal if the participant is wagering on site. While the Ocean state must surely be ecstatic in anticipation of the forthcoming revenue, their projections of $900 million in the first year seem to lean on the optimistic side. Because betting is restricted to Lincoln and Tiverton, the chances of hauling in those kind of numbers seem slim.

Building the Foundation: Brick and Mortar Casinos

Grand Problems for the Garden State

Despite the abundant presence of online casinos in our increasingly digital culture, brick and mortar casinos still serve as the backbone for a strong and stable gambling experience. The previously mentioned states: New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and of course Nevada, all contain reliable land based casinos. New Jersey’s handful of brick and mortar casinos have been relying on the revenue generated from online gambling to keep them afloat. The state’s casinos have recently overcame a decidedly rough patch where many of the casinos, including the Trump Taj Mahal, were forced to be closed due to lack of revenue. The recent upswing across the state can not only be attributed to a more concentrated online gambling presence, but also to the legalization of sports betting which has brought in an entirely new source of earnings.

Different States mean Different Problems

On the other hand, Delaware’s land based casino enterprise poses an uncommon dilemma upon the state. Unlike many other states where officials and businesses welcome the perks of running a billion dollar industry within state lines, Delaware’s small businesses are publicly in opposition to the implementation of casinos. From the perspective of restaurants to even local convenience stores and bars, unrestrained sports betting accruing in the casinos is negatively impacting their own businesses. The correlation is a fairly easy one to see, as customers who may usually eat and drink at local stores now have a more lavish source to get their fixes in. Its effect may be more impactful in a smaller state like Delaware then say Nevada, or even Pennsylvania, due to the populist appeal of casinos weighted against smaller family businesses. Speaking of Pennsylvania, their twelve casinos are also excited to set up true to the end gambling sites. Like previously said, although Pennsylvania is pleased with the performance of their land based casinos, the rivalry amongst its flanking states makes it difficult for the oil state to rely exclusively on old fashioned casinos. This is especially true when one considers that Pennsylvania casinos have not yet constructed sports book facilities. Without the potential return of sports betting, the states casinos are trying to remain competitive as development of the sports facilities nears its end.

In the South and Beyond

In the deep south, Mississippi’s gambling laws have been put into place exclusively for riverboat and Native American casinos. In the 1980’s, Native Americans were given permission to offer these casinos and in spite of the modern look and feel of these gambling hubs, the history of them goes further back than one would imagine. Location wise, of the twenty eight casinos, many are located along the outer edge of the Mississippi and the Gulf Coast. The disparity between the number of casinos in Mississippi and West Virginia is quite surprising. Despite the fact that West Virginia only holds five land based casinos to Mississippi’s twenty eight, West Virginia’s are unquestionably larger. Specifically, the Hollywood Casino seems to be the new center for gambling devotees. The Hollywood Casino is the first of the five casinos to offer licensed sports betting and is partnering with DraftKings in order to provide a deeper wagering experience. With the evidently small state Rhode Island is, it’s unsurprising that only three casinos have sprung up, the largest being the Twin River casino. The casino holds over 4,200 gaming machines and this June’s decision to legalize sports gambling should be a sigh of relief for officials of the state, especially with some of the gaudy internal revenue projections. Rhode Island isn’t exactly the hottest tourist spot so the addition of more and more tourist draws would be welcome additions. Finally, Nevada is of course the hot bead of all gambling action. As far as land based casinos, the best received seem to be the Wynn Las Vegas Casino and the Palazzo Resort Casino. With the recent pooling of online poker players and the PAPSA decision in May, Nevada hopes to continue setting the standard in the world of betting.

Independent Suppliers Want in

Getting a Piece of the Pie

As these handful of states continue the process of perfecting their product, independent partners are longing for a chance to get in on the action. Among the notable independent sports books such as FanDuel and DraftKings, DraftKings is making heavy ground in battleground states such as New Jersey and West Virginia. The partnering process is the embodiment of a symbiotic business relationship between casinos and suppliers due to the fruits it delivers for both sides. Across all states that have legalized sports gambling, partnerships with these companies provides a physical sports book presence that makes sports betting quicker and easier for customers. Moreover, it opens up the possibility to create mobile and online wagering options which are crucial, if not necessary steps, in ensuring exponential growth in the 21st century.

The Competition Heats Up

Because DraftKings has been catering their product for nearly a year, they look to have a leg up on the fierce competition expected. Interestingly, DraftKings and FanDuel are not only competing against each other, but against the brick and mortar casinos’ own products they may roll out. For instance, Resorts Casino located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a key battlegrounds state for independent suppliers has already created its own fantasy sports product dubbed FastPick. This service performs many of the similar functions that an independent supplier may furnish such as the ability to pick players head-to-head. Because of factors such as this, DraftKings and FanDuel are already spreading their clout into states such as California and New York; these states are expected to house some of the largest gambling centers in the nation. To do this, suppliers are spending their own money on intense lobbying efforts, and in this, lies the benefit of DraftKings older shelf life. The company’s past life of operation is giving them a good head start over their competing suppliers.

United States Gambling Retrospective

A Controversial History

Although it may seem like it today, gambling wasn’t always seen as a controversial exercise. In fact, before the 20th century, there wasn’t much of a legal framework at all surrounding the industry. However, as a conservative tide swept the nation in the early 1900’s, much of the neutral public perception about gambling was swept under the rug. Casinos all across the country were shut down until 1931, when Nevada reopened many of its numerous casinos. New Jersey followed Nevada’s precedent and the notorious Resorts International in Atlantic City opened in 1978. Since then, the momentum has been steady and the new hot button issue has become sports gambling, an issue that the sports leagues had definitively stood against for decades.

The Leagues Strike Back

Horse race betting had long been a stable in American society, but aside from this exercise, sports gambling had always received a poor reputation: perhaps deservingly so. After the 1919 World Series was fixed by members of the White Sox, sports decision makers were gifted with what seemed like a foolproof argument: sports gambling maims the integrity of the game. Even as Nevada made sports gambling legal in 1949, the ten percent cut the federal government received immobilized the growth of the industry. As sports leagues continued to make their argument on the basis of integrity, they were fortuitously handed more and more examples that reinforced their argument. Whether it be baseball’s Pete Rose scandal or leaked point shavings spanning three decades, the leagues lucked out. Following these events, the Federal Wire Act of 1961 was passed which made it unlawful to place bets or share information in regards to them through wires across state lines. Momentum seemed to be stymied until studies in the 1970’s made it absolutely apparent just how much the American public supported sports gambling, upwards of 80 percent of citizens supported it in some form. However, with money and influence, the sports leagues were simply too much and the PAPSA decision handed out in 1992 made sports betting illegal on a federal basis. Following this, continued pressure from sports commissioners such as David Stern of the NBA and Rob Manfred of the MLB, kept the leagues grip on the industry tight. In the end however, it would be the millions of avid sports gamblers across the nation that would get the last laugh after the Supreme Court repealed PAPSA this summer.

What About the People?

Public Support is on the Rise

Lost in all the legal jargon of the past century was the comprehensive support sports gambling enjoyed from the U.S. populace. By all accounts, what truly stopped the movement towards legalization was the sports leagues fear that legalization would cut into their own earnings, and not bring enough to the table to compensate for the fact. While these sentiments can certainly be justified from a business perspective, the leagues stubbornness in this matter has shortchanged and alienated their millions of fans. For years, most Americans have approved of sports betting and a recent poll in 2017 showed that 55% of participants approved of sports gambling. What’s most intriguing for proponents moreover is the significant approval sports wagering receives from the youth, the future of the country. More studies from 2017 showed that 62 percent of people between 18-49 approve legalization of sports gambling while only 46 percent of those over 50 approve of it. For those who believe that the country could be on the cusp of near universal support in the short future, these various statistics may serve as compelling confirmation.

Change on the Horizon

Theories behind this shift are surely aplenty but perhaps the most fool proof comes ironically from the sports leagues themselves, and their deviation from their own century long norm. Recently named NBA commissioner Adam Silver has publicly championed sports gambling and the MLB has partnered with a company that tracks sports wagering. Additionally, the NHL has just recently drafted an expansion team located in Las Vegas and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders are also scheduled to relocate to Vegas in 2019. For those underestimating the significance of these shifting sentiments, one can look back at just how powerful the prestige of the sports leagues were in banning sports betting in the 90’s.

Other Factors to Consider: At Home and Overseas

The Silent Beneficiaries

Long starving for some sort of cash flow, Native American stand to benefit more than any other group from gambling casinos. Many tribes today are struggling to get by and the influx of revenue generated from casinos goes a long way in keeping them afloat. In 2009 alone, Indian reservation gambling generated about $26.5 billion in revenue, more than Atlantic City and Las Vegas combined. Tribes have long experienced a low quality of life and employment opportunities granted through casino ventures are in some cases, the difference between life and death. Although Indian reservations receive $4 for every $10 Americans spend at licensed casinos, these numbers plummet for tribes not located in densely populated areas. For this reason, it is pivotal that casinos are given the incentive to grow and expand. Given that many casinos have encouraged more and more Native Americans to become politically active, and repair their relationships with non-Indian people groups, Native Americans are sure to continue using their voice and newfound political leverage to influence politicians to continue expanding the gambling industry in the future.

The State of Gambling Abroad

In many ways, especially economically, Europe operates as a single de facto state; yet, this isn’t exactly the case when it comes to gambling. There isn’t any sort of standard regulation that applies across Europe as individual jurisdictions are given discretion to apply their own rules and regulations. Of all the states, Italy’s rules are by far the most lax. This may speak to the fact that they lead all countries when it comes to gross revenue accrued through gambling, leading at 18 billion euros. The United States should closely observe the profound impact sports gambling has had on the European economy. Sports gambling serves as a plurality of all gambling revenues in Europe, topping off at 37% of all earnings, significantly higher than second place online poker. The U.S. has long been seen as Europe’s biggest imitator, and given the towering profit realized from sports betting on the continent, it is no surprise that the U.S. is once again following their big brothers footsteps.

It’s the Economy Stupid!

Back on U.S. soil, Nevada itself serves as a prototype to what officials can expect when online casino betting is given the tools necessary to take off. With the generation of $248 million dollars in revenue in 2017 alone, it is now time for all states to follow its lead. The more numbers that come in, the more they prove just how large potential tax revenue could be. Even with the splitting of the dividends by multiple parties, all stand to benefit in some capacity or another. As said earlier, Rhode Island, a meager state in the upper northeast, is already witnessing the astonishing results of sports betting. Even if the states own figures seem to be a bit over confident, the frenzy surrounding the industry is hard to ignore. Aside from the hundreds of millions of dollars of unrealized revenue, sports gambling has the ability to create jobs in the states casinos, restaurants, and hotels. So as much as local politicians claim they care about their states economy, squandering the underlying demand of sports betting is doing a great disservice to their very constituents.

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Sources
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Sam Shefrin is the founder of Lineups.com, Inc. He started Daily Fantasy Cafe, Inc. in 2014 and before that SEO Services Los Angeles, Inc. Armed with a passion for sports and every Atlanta team, the journey continues. He has been quoted on Forbes.com for industry insight and his websites featured on NBATV, Yahoo! Sports, Fantasy Pros, Bleacher Report and SB Nation.