Learn about USA online casinos and laws on online gambling in the United States. Look through our US casino reviews and see if you can find a site you’d like to play.
Be aware, online casino gambling in the United States is very tricky. This is because you have a mixed patchwork of state and Federal laws that apply. The USA is a democratic republic where each of the 50 states has a relatively large amount of political power.
When it comes to US internet casinos, that results in a situation where it’s hard to make any kind of blanket statement about the legality of various gambling websites. Its even a challenge to identify which customers each individual site serves.
As a player, you should concern yourself first with whether it’s legal to play slot machines or blackjack on the web in the first place. You might also consider the level of risk in your area.
It’s above my pay grade to provide specific legal advice. Its best to ask a board certified attorney about the legal status for your own state’s iGaming laws and regulations.
But I can offer one observation:
No one in the United States has ever been prosecuted for playing a casino game on the internet for real money.
A Guide to Online Gambling in the USA
Here are some of the factors you’ll need to consider when engaging in this hobby include:
Licensing and acceptance – Depending on where the site in question is located, the licensing body might be strict and provide a lot of oversight, resulting in increased levels of safety for players. Or it might be lax, providing little oversight. Some of the jurisdictions with the strictest oversight policies don’t allow their licensees to do business with U.S. customers at all.
Deposits and cashouts – One of the federal laws applicable to this discussion is UIGEA (The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). This makes it tough for most payment processors to facilitate transactions between web-based casinos and players. Luckily, several options still work well, including Bitcoin and various cryptocurrencies. This page covers those options in some detail.
Reputations for fair gaming and customer service – Most of the sites in the business offer fair odds and true random games like you’d find in a traditional brick and mortar casino. There’s little incentive to cheat when the games’ odds are already stacked in favor of the house. You’ll still see the occasional report from a player about a game that seems to be “cheating.” A more common problem is delayed or refused payouts. I have more to say about both issues (in detail) in this post, too.
Online Casino USA Recommendations – Probably the most important part of this page is the recommendation list. The US properties listed on this page have been thoroughly investigated for fair software, fast payouts, and quality customer service.
Summary Reviews of the Top 5 Online USA Casinos
The team of researchers and gamblers behind the scenes at this site have done a thorough job of investigating, researching, and ranking online casinos for American players. You can feel safe risking your money at any of these websites.
Here are the top 5 USA online casinos:
Intertops offers two different experiences for the casino player: the Casino Classic experience and the CasinoRed experience. Those are powered by WGS Technology and Realtime Gaming software, respectively.
But you can also bet on sports and play poker on the site. New customers get a 100% signup bonus of up to $100 with their first deposit.
2- Lucky Creek
Lucky Creek offers some of the most variety on the internet. You can find hundreds of casino games from multiple software providers, including Betsofft, Rival Gaming, and Saucify. They focus largely on slot machine games.
Right now, new players get 25 free spins on the Age of Spartans slots game, and they’ll also double your first deposit of $250 or less.
3- Drake Casino
Drake Casino is perfect for mobile gamblers, as they use Arrows Edge and Betsoff to power their games. You can’t bet on sports or play poker at Drake Casino, but if a “pure” casino-game experience is what you’re looking for, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more generous promotions. On your first three deposits, you can get 300% bonuses of up to $2000 each—that’s $6000 in free money to get started.
Bovada offers over 300 different casino games powered by multiple software providers, the most well known of which is probably Realtime Gaming. Like Intertops, Bovada offers an entire suite of gambling products, including poker and sports betting.
New casino players at Bovada are eligible to receive a 150% bonus of up to $1500 on their first deposit. They also offer regular promotions and specials, so check the site for the latest bonus offers.
5- Cafe Casino
Café Casino obviously wants your business. That’s why they have customer service available 24/7, but no poker or sports betting—just casino games. They’re powered by Realtime Gaming
USA Online Gambling Laws
USA online gambling laws are a mélange of different statutes, some of which apply to everyone in the country, and others of which only apply to the residents of specific states. The laws which apply to everyone in the country are “federal” laws—the two main federal laws in question are:
I provide observations about both laws below.
State laws vary from state to state. But they generally have 5 main considerations which apply. I provide an analysis of those 5 considerations below, too.
Federal Laws – The Wire Act and UIGEA
The Wire Act is a 1961 law aimed at organized crime. Wait, you might ask. There was on internet in 1961, so what would this have to do with gaming on the web?
Let’s look at the most important piece of text in the law, though:
Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
The internet consists of computers throughout the world sharing information. These constitute “wire communication facilities.”
Whether this law applies to online casino gambling depends largely on the staff at the Department of Justice. At one time, the opinion of the Attorney General was that the Wire Act did apply to casino games like blackjack craps played over wireless devices.
Later, another Attorney General expressed the opinion that the Wire Act did NOT apply to casino games, as the language refers specifically to sporting events. You might love craps, but it’s not a “sport” by most people’s definitions. The latest opinion seems to be that the Wire Act does not apply to online casino games and only applies to interstate sports betting. This has paved the way for New Jersey to offer legal online sports betting in the state of NJ. To date no one has been prosecuted in the United States of America for playing casino games for money online.
There are two main reasons for this:
The first is that the language of the law focuses on businesses engaged in accepting these bets and wagers from gamblers. It’s not focused on the gamblers placing the bets. Traditionally, law enforcement activities for vices like these target the suppliers rather than the customers.
For example, police are more likely to arrest drug dealers than drug users. They’re more likely to arrest someone for selling cigarettes to a minor than they are to arrest the minor buying the cigarette.
The second reason is that the wording of the law is pretty specifically aimed at sports betting, which is a different kind of gambling entirely from casino gambling.
UIGEA, on the other hand, is a more recent law aimed specifically at internet betting activities.
But rather than outlawing online gambling businesses, the UIGEA makes it illegal to facilitate financial transactions to and from businesses offering illegal gambling. This doesn’t make the betting itself illegal; it makes it illegal to facilitate deposits and withdrawals for purposes already made illegal.
In some states, online casinos are clearly operating illegally. UIGEA would apply to all those.
In other states, internet casino games for money are not addressed or are explicitly legal. UIGEA wouldn’t necessarily apply to those.
But UIGEA doesn’t apply to you, anyway, probably. You’re not running a bank or a credit card company handling transactions with offshore businesses. You’re just a customer.
You might have a harder time than you’d expect making a deposit or a withdrawal, but it’s entirely possible—and even easy—using the options available at the cashiers of most of the sites recommended here. In fact, if you’re having trouble making a deposit or withdrawal, just contact customer service via the contact information published on the website.
When states decide whether a specific betting activity is legal or not, they base that on multiple factors. The most important (and common) factors are listed and explained below:
The first issue is called the “dominant factor” criteria. This relates to the role of skill versus luck in the game. In some states, if skill is the predominant factor, it doesn’t constitute gambling at all.
This creates a situation where one might argue that internet Texas holdem is completely legal while web-based slot machines are not. One is a game where skill determines who wins in the long run, while the other is entirely luck-based.
The next factor that many states use to distinguish between legal and illegal gambling is whether the wagering is being conducted socially or professionally or semi-professionally. If you’re betting $100 on a football game you’re watching with your friend, you’re engaged in one form of social gambling.
But if you’re running a bookmaking outfit and taking sports bets from dozens of clients and charging them a vig, you’re running a professional gambling business. Like it or not, this is not allowed and violators will face severe penalties.
In states without a blanket gambling ban, social gambling is usually legal, and professional/advantage betting is usually illegal.
Another factor to consider is the severity of the offense when it comes to illegal gambling. In some states it’s just a misdemeanor, while in others, it’s a felony. The felony charges are usually reserved for people running gambling businesses, although that’s not true in every state.
You’ll also find some states which distinguish between aggravated gambling and simple gambling. For the most part, if you’re playing blackjack or video poker, you’re engaging in simple gambling. Aggravated usually refers to people in the business.
Finally, some states have laws specific to the internet, and some states don’t. In some states, online casinos are completely legal. In those states, they’re required to operate under a license provided by that state’s licensing authority. Those legal sites that you’re seeking are always associated with brick and mortar operations, too.
In states which don’t have specific laws related to internet gambling, the more general laws on the books are the ones which would apply to playing at online casinos.
New Jersey is one of three states which have legalized and regulated mobile casinos. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is responsible for regulating businesses operating in the state, They also oversee all other forms of real money online gaming in the state. The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement is located at S Tennessee Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 and their phone number is (908) 720-3373.
Delaware is another of these three states. The Delaware Lottery provides oversight and regulation for online gambling in the state of DE. They’re located at 1575 McKee Rd #102, Dover, DE 19904 and their phone number is (302) 739-5291.
Pennsylania also offers legal, regulated online casinos. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board provides oversight. Here’s their contact information: P.O. Box 69060, Harrisburg, PA 17106-9060 | (717) 346-8300.
Please note that these are just the states with legal online casino gambling. This doesn’t mean they offer poker or sports betting–those are separate activities, from a legal perspective.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Web-Based Gambling Halls
That’s about as complete a guide to USA-friendly online casinos as you’ll find on the internet. The biggest takeaways from this post are these:
- Online gambling isn’t strictly legal everywhere in the United States, but the likelihood of prosecution is minimal. I’m not suggesting you should break the law. But there’s nothing wrong with speculating about the likelihood of prosecution. (I’m sure most of my readers have run a stop sign at some point in the past when no one was looking, too.)
- Reputations are important, and so are recommendations from legitimate sources. Since so many business in this industry that cater to a red, white, and blue audience are offshore, it’s important to find one with a good reputation. Luckily, this site has done most of the important legwork for you already. Choose from our top rated list to find a premium sportsbook for wagering.
- Making deposits is tricky but it is possible (and even easy, once you know how to do it.) If you go to the cashier at a web casino, they’ll list their available methodologies. If you have trouble getting one of them to work, you can always contact customer service.
Now that you’ve reviewed this guide, do you feel more comfortable about playing from the United States at an online casino?
I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a message in the comments form.