Legal Online Gambling In The US

Legal online gambling in the US is complicated to understand. With a patchwork of different laws in each state and an overall trend of increasing the availability of online gambling, there are constantly shifting sands.   Some states, like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are quite liberal in allowing legal online casinos and legal online sports betting. Almost half of the states allow legal online sports betting or are in the process of launching online sportsbooks.

Top US States With Legal Online Casinos

New Jersey

New Jersey stands as a pioneer in the legal US online casino industry. The Garden State legalized online casinos in February 2013, with the first of the state’s platforms launching in November 2013. More than 20 mobile casinos operate in New Jersey, the most in any US state. Golden Nugget Casino, Betfair/FanDuel Casino, and DraftKings Casino lead the pack as the most popular online casinos in the state.

Pennsylvania

One of the US leaders in retail gambling revenue, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed legislature approving online casinos in October 2017. Pennsylvania’s first state-regulated mobile casinos launched in July 2019. With more than 10 online casinos already launched, and more to come, Pennsylvania is second only to New Jersey in the US legal mobile casino market. FanDuel Casino, BetRivers Casino, and SugarHouse Online Casino stand atop the Pennsylvania mobile casino market.

Michigan

While Michigan legalized online gambling in December 2019, it looks as though online casinos will not be available to folks in the state until late 2020 or early 2021. The launch of casino gaming sites will likely coincide with online poker, but legal Michigan online sportsbooks are set to hit the market by November 2020.

West Virginia

The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act becoming law in March 2019, which legalized both online casinos and online poker. This followed the legalization of online sports betting the prior year. Although it took some time to enact regulations and approve licenses, the first West Virginia online casino launched in the summer of 2020. DraftKings West Virginia partnered with Hollywood Casino at Charleston Races.

Delaware

Delaware passed legislation in 2012 to become the first state to legalize online casinos. Delaware’s mobile casinos are consolidated into a single platform, which launched in November 2013. The platform operates as a joint venture among Delaware’s three retail casinos and 888 Holdings.

Nevada

Nevada passed laws in February 2013 to legalize online poker. The state also legalized online sports betting, but it is unlikely we will see online casinos coming to Nevada any time soon. The casino lobby is strong in Nevada and they want bodies in the retail casinos, not betting from home.

Top States With Legal Online Sports Betting

New Jersey

Lawmakers in New Jersey legalized online sports betting in June 2018. The first of the state’s mobile sportsbooks launched in August 2018. New Jersey leads the US in legal online sports betting revenue, with more than 80 percent of the state’s overall sports betting handle coming from mobile wagering. FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook top the list of highest-earning mobile sportsbooks in New Jersey.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s expansion into legal online sports betting began with a package of bills passed in October 2017. State-regulated online sportsbooks began to launch in May 2019. Pennsylvania bettors enjoy access to many different mobile sports betting platforms, with FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbooks emerging as the market leaders in the state.

Colorado

The Centennial State joined the list of US states offering legal online sports betting on May 1, 2020. After state residents voted to legalize online sports betting in November 2019, Colorado’s retail casinos quickly went to work on the launch of a mobile sportsbook. When the Colorado legal sports betting market reaches its full potential, bettors could have access to 20 or more different online sportsbook brands.

Michigan

Michigan appears poised to become a major online sports betting market in the US. The state legalized both retail and mobile sports betting in December 2019. The state’s tribal and commercial casinos will eventually operate online sportsbooks in Michigan. The launch of those platforms is pending but could happen by 2021.

Nevada

Nevada legalized online sports betting in 2013, and they attract both local bettors as well as folks in neighboring California, where sports betting isn’t legal in any form. The sportsbook apps include all the major brands, which also have brick-and-mortar locations in Vegas and Reno.

Illinois

While Illinois legalized online sports betting in June 2019 with the stipulation that bettors need to register in-person for the first 18 months. While that was lifted during the coronavirus shutdowns, BetRivers was the only operating sports betting app at the time, and the rule was quickly reinstated. In January 2021, remote registrations will be legalized permanently – and several other brands will enter the market, including William Hill, DraftKings, and PointsBet.

Tennessee

Tennessee recently legalized online sports betting and the first online sportsbooks launched on November 1, 2020. National brands such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM launched on the first of the month as well as Action 24/7. Additional sportsbooks are expected to launch in 2021.

Legal Online Casinos In The US

When it comes to casino gaming, there are only a handful of legal online gambling states. New Jersey leads the US in online casino revenue, with Pennsylvania’s up and coming mobile casino market showing signs of major growth. This is not surprising considering NJ was the first to market with legal online gambling platforms on a massive scale. While these two states lead the field in the US market, Delaware was the first US state to pass legislation legalizing online casinos.

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware are the only four states where online casinos are currently live. Michigan legalized online casinos, but the launch of mobile casino platforms is still pending. No other states are likely to legalize online casinos anytime soon. This means that any growth in legal US online gambling will come from the expansion of online sports betting.

Leaders In The US Online Casino Market

The expansion into the online casino market for fantasy sports giants DraftKings and FanDuel has proven successful for both companies so far. FanDuel Casino debuted in Pennsylvania in January 2020 and immediately rose to the state’s top spot in revenue earned. Betfair Casino, which is integrated into the FanDuel Sportsbook New Jersey platform, is the top-earning online casino in New Jersey.

DraftKings Casino immediately placed among New Jersey’s leading online casino brand upon its December 2018 launch. The brand debuted a platform in Pennsylvania in May 2020 and its West Virginia platform launched in July 2020. Other top online casinos include New Jersey’s Golden Nugget Casino, long considered the gold standard for legal mobile casinos in the US.

DraftKings Casino

DraftKings Casino is arguably the best online casino platform in the US, offering a huge selection of games, including exclusive versions of blackjack, roulette, and video poker.

The DraftKings Casino also offers a competitive first-deposit bonus of 20% up to $500.

Like with FanDuel, a single DraftKings login can be used to access the online sportsbook, casino, and daily fantasy sports as long as your state offers all three. However, you’ll need to download the DraftKings Casino app separately from the DraftKings Sportsbook or DFS apps.

FanDuel Casino

The FanDuel Casino is currently available in Pennsylvania by that name. In New Jersey, FanDuel partnered with Betfair to offer online casino games.

For New Jersey, you can use the same login and bankroll to access the FanDuel Sportsbook and DFS platform as well as Betfair Casino and Poker.

In both PA and NJ, the FanDuel Casino lets new members play risk-free for the first 24 hours, refunding net losses up to $200.

BetMGM

If you’re in New Jersey or West Virginia, you have full access to all the BetMGM casino games and the full sportsbook. On the casino side, you’ll find all the titles you’re familiar with at the MGM brick-and-mortar casinos as well as some table games. While the selection doesn’t compare to that at DraftKings or BetFair, there will be something that fits your style of play.

Games Offered At US Online Casinos

Legal mobile casinos in the US offer many of the same games enjoyed by players at retail casinos. Like their land-based counterparts, online casinos offer slots as the main attraction on the gaming menu.

Platforms like Golden Nugget Casino in New Jersey give players hundreds of slot variants to choose from, including progressive jackpot slots. Blackjack, baccarat, craps, roulette, and other casino table games are readily available on mobile casino platforms as well.

Live dealer games, which allow online players the chance to interact with a live dealer and other players, are offered by many legal online casinos.

Bonuses Available At Online Casinos

New players can take advantage of deposit match bonuses at some online casinos. These bonuses match the player’s first deposit with bonus money equal to a percentage of the deposit. For example, at DraftKings Casino, they offer a 20% first deposit match up to $500.

Other bonuses include risk-free days, which refund players on losses within the first 24 hours after depositing. Some online casinos also offer free sign-up bonuses, which award casino credit to new players just for signing up.

Legal Online Sports Betting In The US

The overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018 ushered in a new paradigm of legal sports betting in the US. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled PASPA as unconstitutional.

This paved the way for individual states to legalize both retail and online sports betting. The reversal of PASPA led to several states launching legal online sports betting. New Jersey holds the spot as the top-earning state in the US market.

An upward trend in mobile sports betting is emerging in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In both states, mobile sports wagering accounts for more than 80 percent of the total sports betting handle for the state. Online sportsbooks appear poised to thrive in the US, as bettors enjoy the convenience and ease of access to betting on mobile apps.

Biggest Online Sportsbook Brands

DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook set the bar as the top-earning legal online sportsbook brands in the US market. Both brands operate in multiple US states, taking the top spots in revenue earned in each state in which they operate.

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Indiana all have FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook at the top of the list in revenues. FOX Bet, a partnership between the Stars Group and Fox Sports, is another brand taking root in the emerging US mobile sports betting market. PointsBet, BetRivers, and theScore Bet are all brands that will eventually operate in multiple US states.

DraftKings Sportsbook

The DraftKings Sportsbook boasts the best performing app in US sports betting. There’s rarely any glitches or unexpected quitting, which is, unfortunately, a common feature of many other sportsbook apps. And the overall quality extends to the highly competitive odds and lucrative promotions, including loyalty points, welcome bonuses, and ongoing promos.

FOX Bet Sportsbook

FOX Bet is the best online sportsbook in terms of immersing yourself in the sports broadcasting world. On top of the high-quality odds and platform, the brand features sports personalities and experts as well as exclusive betting coverage. If you like watching FOX Sports and sports betting, it’s practically essential, especially because you can give it a try with a risk-free first bet.

BetRivers Sportsbook

The BetRivers Sportsbook is the online version of Rivers Casino. Currently available in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Colorado, and Illinois, it’s one of the best quality online sportsbooks currently available in the US. Unfortunately, they did not have an app at the time of writing this article, but it’s “coming soon.” Hopefully, it will have a level of stability that lives up to the web browser version of their sportsbook, which is exceptional at every level.

Sports To Bet On At US Online Sportsbooks

Major US sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB are open for betting at US online sportsbooks without restrictions. This includes betting on the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the NBA Finals.

Other major betting markets on US sports include NASCAR, MMA, boxing, golf, and tennis.

For racing, golf, and other sports where players place first, second, third, and so on, you can place pari-mutuel betting in a similar way to horse racing. However, online betting on horse racing is usually separate from the sportsbook because the state regulations are different.

For example, horse racing is available to players 18 and up, while online sports betting is 21 and up in all states.

Aside from that, you can place bets on a range of odds at online sportsbooks, including points spread, futures, Over/Under, and parlays.

Betting On College Sports

College sports betting is available on mobile sports betting apps in the US. However, some states have restrictions on betting on in-state teams and events.

One of the most noteworthy examples is Illinois, where you can’t bet on the Fighting Illini, Illinois State, Loyola, or any other in-state college.

Apart from those exceptions, the full schedule of games for major college sports like football and basketball is open for wagering. This includes legal March Madness pools, which is the most popular form of sports gambling in the US.

Betting On International Sports At US Sportsbooks

US online sportsbooks also offer a full slate of international sports betting markets. International leagues in soccer, basketball, baseball, football, rugby, and many other sports can be bet by US players at legal mobile sportsbooks.

The most popular include the English Football League, the UEFA Champions League, and, of course, the World Cup. All the major online sportsbooks in the US will have these competitions well represented, including unique player props and in-game betting opportunities.

Esports Betting At US Online Sportsbooks

No US states have specific legislation in place to permit esports betting. Some esports events, however, have been open for betting at times in Nevada and New Jersey. As esports events continue to garner mainstream attention, US states could start passing legislation explicitly allowing esports betting at legal online sportsbooks.

Bonuses Available At Online Sportsbooks

Almost all legal online gambling sites offer some type of sign-up bonus as well as regular promotions. The bonuses available at online sportsbooks range somewhat between the different options. And remember, there’s no law against joining multiple sports betting sites and apps to take advantage of all the bonus offers you’d like.

The four main types of bonuses at an online sportsbook include:

  • Deposit-match bonuses
  • Risk-free betting
  • Odds boosters
  • Loyalty points

Sportsbooks will also regularly offer free contests. For example, DraftKings hosted a free NFL fantasy football promo for a million-dollar prize at the beginning of the 2020/21 season. And Illinois sportsbooks will have a similar free-to-play option for March Madness, as taking bets on in-state college schools, including March Madness pools, is prohibited.

Important: Make sure to read all the terms and conditions for a sportsbook promo before you opt-in. Some are tied to specific types of bets or require you to bet a certain amount before you can withdraw. Remember, you can always choose not to use a bonus and just play with exactly as much as you deposited.

Legal Online Poker In The US

State-regulated online poker sites operate in a handful of states. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware form the only interstate online poker network in the US. Players on WSOP.com or the 888 Poker network in those states can compete against each other in a merged interstate player pool. Pennsylvania legalized online poker in October 2017.

In November 2019, PokerStars PA became Pennsylvania’s first legal online poker site to launch. West Virginia and Michigan both legalized online poker, with both states expected to launch products by 2021. Michigan online poker is particularly exciting because of the size of the market and the potential player pool.

Top Online Poker Brands In The US

WSOP.com launched in Nevada in September 2013 and followed up with a New Jersey-only platform in November 2013. 888 Poker launched in Delaware in November 2013. The WSOP and 888 Poker platforms in the three states entered into the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) in October 2017.

The agreement combined the player pools from those sites into the first legal multi-state online poker network in the US. The three-state network of sites debuted in April 2018. PokerStars also operates legal online poker platforms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In each state, players can only play against other in-state players.

Games Available At US Online Poker Sites

US online poker sites offer cash games, multi-table tournaments, and Sit N Gos at a variety of stakes. Texas Hold’em is the main attraction on these platforms, but players can also find Pot Limit Omaha and other poker variants as well. Live dealer poker games are not currently offered at US legal online poker sites.

Legal Online Daily Fantasy Sports

The first modern-era Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) platforms began appearing on the US landscape in 2007. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 ruled that DFS contests were skill games, and therefore not banned under the anti-gambling mandate of the UIGEA. The UIGEA seemingly gave DFS operators the green light to operate across the US.

As DFS sites like FanDuel and DraftKings gained popularity, however, some individual states began to question their legality. As of 2020, DFS sites are legal and regulated in about 25 states. Several other states allow DFS platforms to operate without explicit legislation. DFS sites operate in around 40 US states overall.

Biggest DFS Platforms

FanDuel and DraftKings dominate the US market. The two sites combined account for 95 percent of DFS revenue in the US. FanDuel launched in 2009, and DraftKings went live in the US in 2012. The two brands exploded in popularity in the mid-2010s, with players attracted to seven-figure payouts for the biggest contests on the sites.

DFS platforms run contests that cover the full slate of US major sports. Players can compete in DFS events that include the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, college football, MMA, and many others. Esports contests also run on DFS platforms.

Visit: DraftKings DFS

Legal Online Horse Racing In The US

The origins of online horse race betting, the oldest form of legal online gambling in the US, go back to the 1970s. New York became the first state outside of Nevada to legalize off-track betting (OTB) in 1970. OTB parlors allowed bettors to wager on races across the US. These facilities proved popular for New York bettors.

Later in the decade, The US Congress passed the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. The act explicitly legalized off-track betting across state lines. An amendment to the Interstate Horse Racing Act was added in 2000 to allow internet-based wagering. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 banned interstate internet gambling transactions but contained language to exclude horse race betting from the ban.

Biggest Online Horse Racing Brands

Online horse race betting is legal in 40 states. TwinSpires, TVG, and BetAmerica are the three biggest brands in the legal US online horse racing industry. These apps allow for mobile wagering on races from more than 400 racetracks. Domestic and international events are available to bettors on these apps.

Legal Online Lottery In The US

In 2011, the US Department of Justice issued an opinion on The Federal Wire Act that paved the way for states to offer online lottery ticket sales. Illinois became the first US state with legal online lottery sales in 2012. A total of seven states offer online lottery, also including Georgia, Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. New Jersey became the latest state to offer online lottery in 2019.

Online Lottery Games And Bonuses Offered

In states offering online lottery sales, players can purchase instant win tickets, as well as entries into in-state drawing games. Online lottery apps also offer the purchase of entries into multi-state lotteries like Powerball and MegaMillions. Some online lottery apps offer sign-up bonuses for new players. The Pennsylvania iLottery, for example, offers $5 in free play for signing up. The first deposit on the Pennsylvania iLottery app is eligible for a 100% match bonus up to $250.

Check out our Lottery Numbers Generator before purchasing your online lottery tickets. 

Online Sweepstakes In The US

Sweepstakes casino sites operate legally in most of the US. These platforms offer US players the opportunity to play online casino games and online poker for real cash prizes. In states without regulated online casinos, sweepstakes sites are the best option for players looking for the authentic casino gaming experience online.

Biggest Sweepstakes Brands In The US

Chumba Casino, and its sister site, Global Poker, sit atop the list of legal sweepstakes gaming sites in the US. Both sites are owned by European company VGW Holdings. Players in 49 states can access Global Poker and Chumba Casino. Only Washington state outlaws sweepstakes gaming sites.

Games At Sweepstakes Sites

Chumba Casino offers more than 60 different slots, including progressive jackpot slots with seven-figure grand prizes. The Chumba Casino game menu also includes blackjack, video poker, and roulette. Global Poker runs cash games, multi-table tournaments, and Jackpot Sit N Go tournaments at a variety of stakes. Global Poker’s availability across the US makes it one of the highest-traffic online poker sites in the country.

Top States Offering Online Gambling

StateOnline
Casinos
Online
Sports
Betting
Online
Poker
Daily
Fantasy
Sports
Online
Horse
Race
Betting
Online
Lottery
Online
Sweepstakes
Colorado-Legal-LegalLegal-Legal
Washington DC-Legal-LegalIllegal-Legal
DelawareLegalLegalLegalLegalLegal-Legal
Illinois-Legal-LegalLegalLegalLegal
Indiana-Legal-LegalLegal-Legal
Iowa-Legal-LegalLegal-Legal
MichiganLegal; expected 2021Legal; expected 2021Legal; expected 2021LegalLegalLegalLegal
New Hampshire-Legal-LegalLegalLegalLegal
New JerseyLegalLegalLegalLegalLegalLegalLegal
Oregon-Legal-LegalLegalIllegalLegal
PennsylvaniaLegalLegalLegalLegalLegalLegalLegal
Virginia-Legal; expected 2020-LegalLegalIllegalLegal
West VirginiaLegalLegalLegal; expected 2020LegalLegalIllegalLegal

What Deposit Options Are Available On Legal Online Gambling Sites In The US?

Deposit Methods

State-regulated online gambling sites in the US offer several secure methods for player deposits. The most universally accepted deposit method across legal online gambling sites is ACH/eCheck. With a valid US bank account, players of legal gambling age can deposit and see the funds available instantaneously at their chosen online gambling platform. Other deposit methods include debit cards, prepaid cards, PayPal, and eWallets like Skrill and Neteller. Casino cage deposit at the retail casino operating an online platform is another option for players to deposit funds.

Withdrawal Methods

ACH/eCheck, prepaid cards, eWallets, PayPal, and casino cage withdrawal are all methods available for players to cash out from legal online gambling sites. Players can also request a withdrawal through check by mail and wire transfer.

How Do I Know My Funds Are Safe On A Legal Online Gambling Site?

State-regulated online gambling sites are owned and operated by retail casinos. These casinos are regulated by government agencies in their respective states. These agencies, like Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board, oversee the state’s casino industry and ensure accountability, transparency, and safety of player funds. As part of the multi-billion dollar legal gambling industry, US casinos operate with a vested interest in the security of player deposits and withdrawals.

FAQ – Commonly Asked Questions About Legal Online Gambling In The US

Are Online Casinos Legal In The US?

Yes. Federal law in the US permits individual states to offer legal online casinos. These online platforms are owned and operated by legal land-based casinos in the US. Online casinos are overseen by government regulatory agencies in their respective states. All legal online casino sites will display the seal of the governing body from their respective state. Pennsylvania’s mobile casino sites, for example, display the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board seal. Offshore gambling sites, or any site not bearing an official seal from a US governing agency, are operating illegally in the US.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal In The US?

Yes. Like online casinos, individual states are permitted to determine their own legislation relating to online sports betting. The overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018 cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, both retail and online, at a state level.

Do I Need To Pay Taxes On Gambling Winnings To The IRS Or To The State?

Both. In most states, gambling winnings are subject to state tax rates for both residents and non-residents. Federal taxes must be paid on winnings of $5,000 or more. Casinos will automatically withhold the appropriate tax contributions in the case of a $5,000 or higher win. The federal tax rate on gambling winnings is 25 percent.

How Do I Find The Best Bonuses Available Now On Online Gambling Sites?

Most online gambling sites offer bonuses for new players. These bonuses can come in the form of deposit matches, free sign-up bonuses, risk-free days, and other promotions. Sites like Colorado Sharp and Bonus.com present comprehensive menus of bonuses available at state-regulated online casinos.

Can I Play Online Casino Games From My Cell Phone Or Tablet?

Yes. Nearly all legal online gambling sites can be downloaded as mobile apps. For iOS devices, these apps are found in the App Store. For Android devices, apps must be downloaded directly from the website of the respective online casino. The Google Play store does not allow downloads of real-money gambling apps.

Is It Safe To Gamble Online?

Yes, if done on a legal, state-regulated online casino platform. Legal online gambling sites are owned and operated by land-based casinos. As such, gambling at these sites offers the same secure experience as gambling at a legal retail casino. State-regulated online casinos are overseen by the same government agencies that regulate land-based casinos.

Are Online Casino Games Fair?

Yes. Online casinos, and the retail casinos that operate them, are obligated by state laws to present fair games. Games at online casinos operate exactly as they’re presented by official game rules. Government regulatory agencies oversee state casino industries. This ensures fairness, safety, and transparency from online casinos.

How Do I Know Whether An Online Gambling Site Is Legal?

Legal online gambling sites bear the official seal of the gaming enforcement agency overseeing the state. Pennsylvania’s legal online casinos, for example, all display the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board seal. Online gambling sites not displaying a regulatory seal are not operating legally in the US.

About the Author

Geoff Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.