Though gambling laws in the US are generally restrictive, there are exceptions. State governments can pass legislation that regulates or bans specific forms of gambling within their borders; and due to the Supreme Court ruling striking down PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), more states have opened up sports betting as an avenue.
While online sportsbooks have made significant inroads into US markets, legalizing real money casinos has been much slower to occur. Here we take a closer look at which states allow online gambling and their respective laws on this matter.
Initial state regulations of gambling were usually restrictive. Some banned all forms except state-licensed lotteries or charitable organizations; while other states limited online gambling to specific games or only allowed it on Native American lands.
However, in response to high-profile tragedies, some states have eased up on restrictions. For instance, video games came under increasing legal fire during the late ’90s for their violent and sexually explicit content, leading some states to pass laws restricting children’s access. By the early 2000s however, violent video games had been linked with school shootings and numerous civil suits were filed against software companies for damages caused by them.
Over time, some states were more liberal with their gambling laws, permitting charity gaming and pari-mutuel wagering on horse races as well as pari-mutuel betting on tribal lands. But it took awhile for internet gaming to catch up and become as widely accepted as it is today.
Nevada and Delaware both quickly passed laws permitting residents to gamble at casino games and poker tables, but New Jersey didn’t legalize its first regulated sites until 2019. West Virginia joined in 2021, followed by Mississippi and Michigan.
Montana stands out as an interesting state, as its residents can play at retail casinos throughout the state while online casino gambling remains illegal. South Dakota, with over 20 casinos and online sports betting permitted for residents, allowed residents to participate without providing for online casino gaming as part of its legislative package.
Georgia lawmakers have attempted for years to change the state’s attitude on gambling, yet have encountered stiff opposition from the public. Due to this fact, it remains uncertain when Georgia will introduce its first legal online casino; until that occurs, residents can engage in fantasy sports and sports betting, both legal activities in Iowa. Daily fantasy sports is also legal here as are pari-mutuel wagers on horse races and charitable gaming activities.