Legal U.S. Online Betting Guide For 2018

Slots IconThis website was developed as a resource guide for American residents who are interested in engaging in legal online betting. Lets be honest, the online gambling landscape in the US is nothing if not confusing. The complexity of state vs federal laws concerning gambling is not easy territory to navigate, and many USA gamblers are unsure what they can legally participate in and what is off limits. Inaccurate or out dated information about the legalities surrounding online gambling in the United States can land you in a questionable situation. As industry professionals, we recognized pretty quickly that there was a need for a concise, comprehensive and accurate resource guide that can shed light on this topic, and send American residents off as informed gamblers with a clear understanding of their options.

We come at this from two different directions. First and foremost, we are die hard online gamblers, avidly participating in legal online sports betting, online casinos and poker play. We also enjoy racebook action, bingo, and playing the lottery online. You will find sections within this guide that cover all of those types of betting. Secondly, we serve as professional industry consultants that are proficient in vetting legally licensed US online gambling sites and the services they provide. Combined we have several decades of gambling experience under our belts, and are well versed in the nuances present within this industry. We are also very familiar with the legalities of gambling from a state and federal perspective.

Our range of experience as players and professionals has provided us with a well rounded perspective of each niche within the industry. The information you find on is accurate, up to date and invaluable to players who enjoy gambling online, but want to do it legally within the confines of the law.

Is Online Gambling Legal In The United States?

The good news is there is nothing illegal about gambling online in the United States as long as the site is located outside of US borders. Even US Attorney Catherine Hanaway openly admitted in a 2007 congressional hearing that "There are no current laws or prohibitions in the federal code that would make online gambling illegal in the US". Learn more below in our FAQ section

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USA Online Casinos

Casino IconOnline casinos are a dime a dozen. There are literally hundreds of casinos on the Internet that will gladly accept US players looking to gamble for real money. However, this doesn't mean that all of these destinations are legitimate or hold proper credentials. Limiting your online gambling to licensed online casinos that are subject to genuine regulatory oversight is crucial to your well-being and profitability as a player. You also want to consider the features and amenities at these sites, such as which ones offer the most lucrative bonuses and incentives as well as stellar service. Our team of professionals has carefully vetted the leading legal online casinos operating on the Web. The brands that we approve have a proven track record in the industry for delivering a no-nonsense, ethical gambling experience with fair and competitive odds, fast payouts and excellent support. We only recommend the most respected sites that have longevity in the industry and can legally accept USA players.

Top Rated Legal US Online Casinos

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USA Sports Betting

Sports Icon Sports betting is one of the more complex platforms within the gambling industry. It is the one area of betting in which the Feds seem to be consistently engaged, no doubt due to the reach of major sports leagues and their influence. There are basically two laws that govern sports betting in the United States: the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), and the Federal Wire Act. While these two laws do combine to make it unlawful to operate bookmaking services in the US across most of the nation, they do not prohibit American sports fans from wagering on sports through licensed and regulated sportsbooks located outside of the United States. You can legally participate in online sportsbook gambling at any of the destinations recommended in our legal online sports betting guide. We also have a complete guide to betting on the Super Bowl legally for USA players. We always vet our recommendations carefully and only provide access to the most reliable and trustworthy destinations for US players.

Best Legal US Online Sportsbooks

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Bovada Sportsbook Logo
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USA Online Poker

Poker IconThe online poker industry has (in poker jargon) thinned the heard in recent years. A number of poker sites have exited the US gambling market making the options very limited in the US. The good news is that several states now offer legal online poker with many others are working on legislation. Until that reality is seen in all its glory, there are still some extremely reputable and high quality poker sites that are licensed to accept US players legally from their offshore destinations and international license. Each of these sites has been carefully evaluated and vetted through our intense review process, and are among the top rated options for USA players. There are no laws against playing online poker for real money via an offshore site.

Legally Licensed US Friendly Online Poker Sites

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Bovada Poker Logo
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Bringing Clarity To The Current Online Gambling Situation In America - FAQ's

Which Federal Laws Affect Online Gambling For United States Players?

Here you will find a listing of the relevant federal laws that govern gambling within the United States. These laws are applied to US based gambling, and are primarily targeting gambling operation owners and payment processors and not players themselves. The government is most interested in prohibiting illegal gambling operations rather than monitoring the activities of players. Our explanations of these laws goes into greater detail on the actual application of the laws.

UIGEA - The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), was passed in 2006 with the objective of providing regulatory oversight regarding how online gambling transactions could be processed. By definition, this law prohibits online gambling businesses from receiving online payments from players who wish to profit from games of luck in regards to wining positions or numbers. This law stipulates that all online gambling businesses and all those parties that facilitate the transmission of the funds from the player to the business are committing a crime. This law has been the center of criticism due to its ambiguity and the fact that it does not clearly define which online games are subject to the law and which ones are not. The common misconception regarding this law is that it made online gambling illegal across the board for US players. The fact is that the UIGEA law only addresses the handling of the gambling transactions handled through participating payment processors, and does not address or go after players at all.

Paspa - The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, also known as the Bradley Act, is a federal law that regulates sports betting in the United States. It was enacted in 1992, outlawing sports betting across the nation with the exception of four specific states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. At the time of the bill's passage, a one year grace period was allowed for other states that were already engaged in the gambling industry in order to allow them the opportunity to include sports betting within their range of options. New Jersey was one of the states expected to take advantage of this option at the time, however they failed to do so. Once the 'grace period' was up, the law was set in stone. This means that it is illegal for anyone to operate a sportsbook within the US unless you are licensed in one of the four approved states. Several states, including New Jersey, are currently working towards the repealing of PASPA as unconstitutional. New Jersey has proceeded with establishing a state regulated sports betting initiative. The issue is still undergoing legal action in the federal court system. The good news is that this law does not affect US sports fans seeking legal access to regulated online sports betting through licensed offshore sportsbooks.

Wire Act Of 1961 - Also known as the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, the Federal Wire Act is another federal law that governs sports betting. The difference between this law and PASPA is that it specifically targets online betting transactions. The DOJ has stated that this law only targets sports betting, and does not apply to internet casino or poker gambling. The purpose of this law is to restrict wire transmissions that are directly related to sports betting. It was originally conceptualized in order to curtail organized criminal activities that were rampant at the time, including money laundering and trafficking. This all occurred long before the emergence of the Internet, which has caused a great deal of controversy throughout the gambling market in the US due to the government's insistence on applying the law to Internet gambling. The Federal Wire Act does not prohibit any US residents from legally enjoying licensed and regulated offshore sportsbook gambling from destinations that are legitimately operating within the industry.

It is to be noted that the Federal Wire Act does not affect any other betting or wagering of online games. Again, the law does not hold jurisdiction over wire transmissions (communication or funds processing) between States if such wire transmissions do not have anything to do with sports betting. Under this law, online gaming and wagering is perfectly legal.

Rawa - The Restoration of America's Wire Act is a piece of legislation that has been introduced but has not gained a lot of traction as of yet. The bill would redefine the Wire Act, issuing a nationwide ban for state based online gambling across the US. Under RAWA, the existing online gambling sites operating legally within the US in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey would be rendered as illegal businesses and forced to cease operations. We do not expect this measure to be passed as it has not received the support it needs to gain momentum, and has fallen to the wayside in light of more pressing legislative issues in Washington DC.

Our US federal gambling laws section covers each of these laws in great detail and how these laws might affect USA players.

Is Online Gambling Legal In The United States?

There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the legalities of gambling online in America. To put it as plainly as possible, there are no laws that specifically make the act of online gambling illegal from a players perspective with the exception of Washington state who explicitly outlaws online gaming. What is illegal is owning or operating an online gambling site within the U.S. borders. Or to look at it another way, accepting bets is illegal, but placing them is not.

Current Status

In 2011, the DOJ issued a formal opinion about the reach of the Wire Act saying it only applies to sports betting and not to casino and poker gambling. They also stated that it was up to each individual state to determine their own destiny regarding online gambling. Since then, New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have legalized some form of online wagering, with multiple states pushing forward with legislation as well, such as California.

However, players must be present within the state borders in order to participate in any state regulated options leaving players from 47 states pretty much out of luck. So US players who are interested in participating in real money play will need to consider an offshore site. In other words, sites that are located outside of the United States and ultimately out of the reach of US federal laws. Again, there are no federal laws that prohibit US players from participating in offshore gambling that is legally licensed and regulated through a legitimate and respected governing jurisdiction. Our US State Gambling guide goes into great detail on which states currently offer legal gambling, current laws that affect players and a list of offshore sites that accept players from your specific state.

Why Do Certain Gambling Sites Not Allow American Citizens?

It's really hard to say why some gambling sites continue to accept US players and others don't. Certain lawyers that represent offshore gambling sites feel that it's risky to continue accepting American bets, while others feel that precluding international companies from doing business in the United States is a violation of the World Trade Organization and free trade. The bottom line is the US doesn't exactly practice what they preach when it comes to online gambling and free trade.

What Is An Offshore Gambling Site?

Just as the name implies, an offshore gambling site is simply one that is located offshore, outside of US borders and ultimately beyond the reach of the US government. While we cannot speak for the hundreds of offshore sites that currently accept USA players, we can, with absolute confidence; guarantee that every single site you see listed in our guide is licensed, regulated and reputable. In fact, many of our recommended brands will pay your faster than some of the state regulated options available here in the US. In addition, these offshore sites often offer you far more bang for your buck in terms of bonuses and promotions. Some of the sites we recommend are offering as much as a 400% first time players bonus when they sign up. You won't find any offers that come close to that at any of the big Vegas names that are currently offering legal gambling online here in the US.

How Do I Know If A Particular Online Gambling Site is Safe?

The best way to ensure you only land at reputable, legitimately licensed and high quality gambling sites is to rely on the input of industry professionals. While we can't speak to other guides found on the web, was created by a team of online gambling professionals who carefully analyze the online gambling sites operating within the industry, and vet them for legal licensing and regulation, the quality of their security profile, their overall performance and quality level, and the value they bring or don't bring to the community. The review process is intense and complex, and effectively reveals the industry's leading options and eliminates the questionable, dangerous, low quality and undesirable destinations. Industry analysts have vetted all the brands listed in this guide.

Are The Games Fair?

Yes, assuming you are playing at a casino brand that utilizes reputable software solutions such as Microgaming, RTC, Playtech or Netent. All of these software providers are consistently audited by third party businesses regarding their fair gaming practices and compliance certifications. In addition, they each operate using what is known as a random number generator (RNG). This technology ensures completely random outcomes on all games of chance. The games are also kept fair through sophisticated anti-fraud protection that protects both the players and operators from any attempts at fraudulent activity or cheating during game play.

What Deposit Methods Are Offered For USA Players?

USA players don't have it as easy as those in countries like the UK where online gambling is legal across the board. Because of the UIGEA and American banking laws, players from the USA have a tough time making deposits into online gambling sites. We are currently working on a new section that will assist US players in learning about the most reliable ways to fund their online gaming accounts. Until that is finished, we definitely recommend using Bitcoin.

What Does The Future Hold For Regulated Online Betting In America?

The last few years have marked some significant progress for the legalization of state based online gambling; a trend that we anticipate will continue to grow throughout the United States. Thus far, three states have embraced online gambling through state licensed and regulated initiatives. Those three pioneering states are Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. Though US based online gambling has not expanded beyond the borders of these three states as of yet, there is still a pretty favorable forecast for the next few years, after which many anticipate that growth of the industry will start taking place much faster.

There are several states that are openly discussing the possibility of legalizing online gambling for their residents, and some that have introduced various types of legislation to take the leap forward. These states include Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts and New York. Online poker seems to be the most popular gambling platform that is being considered by most supporters and interested parties, and the most likely to succeed. The existing active engagement in US based online gambling may be seen as minimal at this point, but each state that gets into the game strengthens the industry and brings a new dynamic to potential interstate contracts for sharing player pools across state lines.

There are numerous challenges that are involved in achieving a final piece of legislation that appeases all parties and the general public simultaneously, so it is not unusual for multiple efforts and campaigns to surface for any one state. Each state also faces some type of opposition to gambling expansion in most cases, and this too must be dealt with and addressed, sometimes further delaying the process. Just because it takes time doesn't mean it isn't gaining steam.

Other states on the short list that are expected to show interest in some type of state regulated online gambling options include Washington State, Illinois and Connecticut. We may not see it come to full fruition in 2016, but it is possible these regions will see discussions and legislation gain traction this year, leading to a potential online gambling platform launch in 2017. Again, the focus is primarily with online poker in these regions as well.

One gambling niche that has had a lot of speculation and attention as of late is online sports betting. With the explosion of legal daily fantasy sports action in the US, and industry professionals such as Mark Cuban investing in infrastructure and sports related sites to support online sportsbook gambling, it is clear that this type of betting is being viewed as an inevitable addition to USA based online gambling in the future. The primary sports leagues in the US have historically been opposed to sports betting action, but the winds of change seem to be reaching these commodities as well.

The NBA president has expressed support for legalized online sports betting in the US multiple times. And several high profile people such as Michael Jordan, Mark Cuban and several others have recently entered a partnership with high profile Sportrader to distribute live data from games. The company is based in Switzerland, and has also struck a deal with the NHL for the same type of data deal. Sportrader is already very immersed in the online betting industry globally, providing live statistics to various bookmaker clients. It is clear that the internet age is transforming the gambling industry and how sports fans interact with it, effectively weaving betting into the fan culture of professional sports in the US. Sadly, the legal structure in the United States has failed to keep pace. Even so, all indicators point to an inevitable expansion of legal sports betting in the US that includes online bookmaking as well.

All things being said, regulated online gambling expansion in the US is undeniably in motion. Will it take some time? Yes. Will it be all we hope and imagine? Eventually. The industry will have to walk before it runs, and the reported increases in revenue among two of the three states already involved is encouraging and will entice additional states to get on board, providing an effective blueprint for getting the ball rolling.

What Is Bitcoin And How Does Is It Work For US Players?

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that has is changing the online gambling industry in many ways. It offers completely anonymous transactions and allows players the ability to both deposit and receive payouts in record times. There are all kinds of advantages to using bitcoin which we won't get into here. Instead we recommend you read our thorough guide to legal bitcoin gambling which has all the information US players need to make an informed decision on whether or not to use it to fund their gambling accounts.

Latest Gambling News

What’s Next? PAPSA Debunked
May 19, 2018

US Supreme Court Building

By now the most sports fans have heard that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in a 7-2 decision announced Monday, May 14th, 2018. The ruling now lets states decide if they want to allow legal sports betting in their state or not. As of now, there are about 20 states pushing for some sort of legalized sports betting and most of them have already drafted legislation to allow it, […]

US Senator Pitching Federal Regulation On Sports Betting
May 17, 2018

US Senator Orrin Hatch

The recent SCOTUS decision regarding PASPA was groundbreaking in the sense that it opened up a world of sports betting possibilities in the US and delivered the death of PASPA. As with most stories, there is a negative side lurking amidst the good news and that side is now rearing its ugly head. US Senator Orrin Hatch announced his plans to introduce a bill on federal sports betting regulation, which would offset the progress of individual states implementing their own regulatory frameworks. To be fair, […]

May 14, 2018

drawing of supreme court killing paspa

It is a historic day for sports betting in the United States. The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey and officially declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. With the law stricken down, states now have the right to offer regulated sports betting options to residents. Justices ruled in favor of New Jersey by a 6-3 vote. This decision is monumental in the ongoing fight for sports betting legalization in the United States. PASPA first came about in 1992 […]

Time Line - Major Events That Helped Shape The Online Gambling Industry In The US

1961 President Kennedy signed into law the Federal Wire Act with the hopes of curtailing bookmaking operations. Of course this transpired before the internet was even invented, so the original intent of the law is certainly in question.

1992 Paspa also known as the Bradley Act was passed into law. This law effectively bans sports wagering in all but 4 states.

1996 The first online gambling sites went live in 1996. One of them was the Bodog brand, and they've been one of the most trusted names in the industry ever since. Bovada (one of the top rated sites in our guide) is an extension of the Bodog name and is operated by the same management team.

2006 The UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was signed into law which effectively made it illegal for banks and financial institutions to process any transactions that were related to online gambling. However, this law does not ban the act of gambling at all.

2011 Black Friday was historic day in online gambling in the United States when indictments were served on the three largest poker sites: Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars, thereby signaling an end to online poker in the United States of America, a multi billion dollar per year industry.

2011 The US Supreme Court issued a formal legal opinion on the scope and reach of the Federal Wire Act. They also went on to clarify that it was ultimately up to each state to determine it's own destiny regarding whether or not to offer legalized gambling in their state.

2013 In April of 2013, Nevada was the first state to pass legislation to approve legal and regulated online poker in the US. Since then Delaware and New Jersey both offer regulated betting to residents of their state.

2014 In 2014, 3 Senators reintroduced legislation to congress called RAWA - Restoration Of Americas Wire Act that would effectively restore and rewrite the wire act and make online gambling illegal across the board, even on the state level. Oddly enough, these senators are thought to be supported by Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire gambling tycoon with brick and mortar casinos located all over the world. Its not hard to put 2+2 together on that one.

4 Legal Facts About The US Online Gambling Industry

#1 There are currently no federal laws which make online gambling illegal in the US. This was confirmed by U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway in a congressional hearing in 2007 where she openly admitted that there was no legislation that made it illegal to gamble online in the US.

#2 Currently only 3 out of the 50 states offer some form of legal online gambling. While there are certainly additional states that are moving towards offering state regulated gambling, for now the only real money viable option for players who don't live in one of these 3 states is to play at an offshore site.

#3 There is only 1 state (Washington) which currently has an anti-gambling law in place that specifically makes online gambling illegal in the state. But even in Washington, to our knowledge there have not been any players arrested for playing online.

#4 When several of the gambling laws were written, there were special carve outs which made certain areas within the gambling arena legal in the United States. There is no denying that special interest groups have a lot of pull on Capital Hill. These exemptions have resulted in horse betting, fantasy sports, lotteries and certain games of skill all being legal under US law.