There is no U.S. National law against Gaming online
There is no U.S. national law against gambling online. At the federal level, gambling on the internet is perfectly legal, because of the absence of a law against it. It is likely to run afoul of state law (especially in extremely conservative countries ), but even there prosecution is very uncommon, and penalties are usually minor.
U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway confessed in a House hearing that only placing wagers online doesn’t violate federal law. No American has ever been arrested, indicted, or prosecuted by the feds for gaming online, because there’s no law against it. If online gambling were illegal I would not be running his website for nineteen decades, as an American citizen, living in the U.S., with my actual name. And I occasionally gamble online, too, and I admit that publicly, like I’m doing right now.
This may be confusing because other outlets erroneously reported that Congress banned online gambling in 2006. Those reports are just wrong. The 2006 law makes it illegal for banks to maneuver gambling money once the stakes are already illegal (including from a country law), but doesn’t ensure it is illegal for players to create stakes. The legislation simply does not create or extend any ban on gaming itself. In fact, the law says quite clearly,”No provision of this subchapter shall be construed as altering, limiting, or expanding any Federal or State legislation or Tribal-State compact prohibiting, permitting, or regulating gaming within the USA.” You can see for yourself by checking out the entire text of this law.
Despite the fact that you don’t violate any national laws from placing bets online, it is not legal to conduct a gambling operation (i.e., to accept bets), except in those few states where it is explicitly legal and the operator is accredited. Therefore don’t think that you can begin an online casino or operate Facebook raffles.
And yes, the FBI published a frightening warning online where they claimed that putting bets on the internet is against the law. In short, they lied, and the DoJ finally reversed that place anyway. (more on that)
States where online gambling is explicitly legal
Very few countries have specific laws against online gaming, although many have laws against gambling in general, which apply equally to online and offline gaming. A small handful of states have legalized online gaming, as long as you play one of the handful of approved online casinos. In some states, only certain kinds of gambling might be lawful (e.g., poker). The states which have legalized at least some form of online gambling are:
Delaware became the first state to legalize online gambling, in June 2012, and the next to start (Nov. 26, 2013). (USA Today, Delaware Online, Casino.org)
Nevada became the first nation to legalize online gambling (well, poker at least), on Feb. 21, 2013 (CBS) and launching on April 30. (LVRJ)
New Jersey became the third state to legalize online gambling (poker + casino), signed into law in February 2013, and launching on Nov. 25th. (NJ Poker Online)
Be aware that Bovada won’t accept players from these countries, nor will they take players out of Maryland or New York.
The District of Colmbia became the first jurisdiction to legalize online gambling in the U.S., in April 2011. On the other hand, the measure was repealed in February 2012 until it became lively. (NY Times)
State violations of gambling are usually misdemeanors
Even when states do not permit players to gamble, the penalties are always mild. The only nations where easy gambling is a felony would be both Washingtons: Washington, DC, and Washington state. (source) In most nations simple gambling is just a misdemeanor, and in Arkansas and Colorado it is a straightforward petty crime, like a traffic ticket. (origin )
States with an online gaming prohibition
Even countries that prohibit gambling in general usually do not have a particular ban on online gambling. When it’s against the law to bet on your nation, that applies online and offline, even if the law doesn’t mention online. However, a couple of countries do specifically outlaw online gambling. Those countries are:
Nevada (go figure)
Source: Gambling Law U.S.
Participants convicted of breaking State legislation I know of two cases in which a participant ran afoul of state legislation (in extremely conservative nations ), both of whom were charged under their nation’s overall anti-gambling legislation, no special anti-online-gambling law:
North Dakota. Jeffrey Trauman paid a $500 fine on what was probably over $100,000 in online sports bet winnings, in 2003. (Betting & the Law)
Oklahoma. Online sports bettor Roland Benavides was billed in 2011 and at 2012 received a deferred sentence (meaning that when he does not violate the conditions of his probation, he will likely face no jail time). (Information OK)
Kentucky seized domain names A Kentucky judge consented to let Kentucky capture 141 gambling-related domain names, on the spurious grounds that a domain name constituted a”gambling device” under state law. But even if it were clear that gaming domains violated Kentucky law, the seizure was nevertheless ridiculous, due to that logic any nation could seize any domain anywhere in the world if the site happened to violate its local law. In any event, as FlushDraw said,”Just a small number of US-based registrars complied, and the seizures themselves were rendered somewhat moot when nearly all of the affected domains jumped to non-US registrar services and ceased using”.com” domains”
The Kentucky Court of Appeals promptly chased the seizure actions, but then the State appealed. I could not find any upgrades involving 2014-2018 (EFF 2008, KY appealed in 2009, 2014 judgment )
Taking bets is illegal It’s always been against federal law to carry sports bets over the Internet (not to make them). That is, you can’t set up a site and accept sports bets out of the public. The legislation which prohibits this is called the Wire Act. For many years the feds said that the Wire Act applied to accepting casino and poker stakes also. Then in 2011 they reversed themselves and said the Wire Act applied only to sports. (Forbes) Subsequently in 2019 they reversed themselves and returned to the former position that the Wire Act actually applies to accepting poker and casino stakes too. (source) Though again, putting bets remains perfectly legal under national law. The challenge would be finding a reputable place to playwith. Due to the legal problems, there are not many operators serving the whole U.S., and many of those which do are kind of questionable. That’s why I promote only Bovada on this site, because they’re the best one for U.S. players.
States can currently offer sports betting In May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a law that prohibited sports betting in most countries but Nevada. This allows individual countries to legalize sports gambling if they choose to do so. However, the court’s judgment does not speak to the Wire Act, so online sportsbooks still violate federal law (for the operator, not the player). (Forbes)
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