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Popular Gambling by States
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In the United States, the regulations surrounding gambling exhibit considerable variations from one state to another. This divergence is primarily due to the fact that the federal government delegates the authority to shape gambling laws to individual states. Consequently, what is deemed legal in the casino-friendly state of New Jersey may not find approval just across the border in the more cautious gambling environment of Maine, for example. Inadvertently participating in an unlicensed gambling operation could lead to legal consequences. Hence, being well-informed about your rights and familiar with local gambling laws is crucial.
The majority of state gambling laws explicitly forbid unlicensed games, wagers, or bets where outcomes are influenced, at least in part, by chance. However, if a competition or game rewards winners based on skill, such as shooting competitions or car racing, it does not fall under the category of gambling. It is important to note that certain legal restrictions may still apply to ensure the legality of these activities.
In general, the classification of a game as either chance-based or skill-based depends on which of the two elements, chance or skill, exerts a more significant influence on the game's outcome. If chance predominates, the game is categorized as one of chance, and wagering on such activities is considered gambling. Despite the legalization of some form of gambling in most states, strict regulations remain in place. Betting pools, small poker clubs, fantasy football leagues, and skill-gaming machines are technically prohibited in many jurisdictions. However, enforcement varies, with difficulties and leniency often dependent on the state.
The provided excerpts contain specific details regarding state constitutional provisions related to gambling, “aiding and abetting” clauses in state criminal laws, fundamental criminal gambling statutes, and references to legalized gaming laws in select states.
Gambling legality in the United States is a complex and diverse landscape, with regulations varying significantly from state to state. Each state has its own statutes and laws that dictate the permissibility and scope of gambling activities within its jurisdiction. At CasinoLandia, we provide a comprehensive overview of gambling legality in each state, empowering you with the knowledge needed for a responsible and enjoyable gambling experience.
|Regulator||State||Online Casinos||Sports Betting||Poker||Bingo||Land Casinos||Fantasy||Social||Horse Racing||Age|
|Alabama||Alabama Gambling Commission (AGC)||18|
|Alaska||Alaska Gaming Control Board (AGCB)||18|
|Arizona||Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG)||21|
|Arkansas||Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC)||21|
|California||California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC)||18|
|Colorado||Colorado Division of Gaming (CDG)||21|
|Connecticut||Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP)||21|
|Delaware||Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE)||21|
|Florida||Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (FDPW)||18|
|Georgia (US)||Georgia Lottery Corporation (GLC)||18|
|Hawaii||Hawaii State Gambling Commission (HSGC)||18|
|Idaho||Idaho Lottery and Gaming Control Board (ILGCB)||18|
|Illinois||Illinois Gaming Board (IGB)||21|
|Indiana||Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC)||21|
|Iowa||Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC)||21|
|Kansas||Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC)||18|
|Kentucky||Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC)||18|
|Louisiana||Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB)||18|
|Maine||Maine Gambling Control Unit (MGCU)||18|
|Maryland||Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA)||21|
|Massachusetts||Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC)||21|
|Michigan||Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB)||18|
|Minnesota||Minnesota Gambling Control Board (MGCB)||18|
|Mississippi||Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC)||21|
|Missouri||Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC)||21|
|Missouri||Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC)||21|
|Montana||Montana Lottery (ML)||18|
|Nebraska||Nebraska Department of Revenue, Charitable Gaming Division (NDR-CGD)||18|
|Nevada||Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB)||21|
|New Hampshire||New Hampshire Lottery Commission (NHLC)||18|
|New Jersey||New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE)||21|
|New Mexico||New Mexico Gaming Control Board (NMGCB)||18|
|New York||New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC)||21|
|North Carolina||North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL)||18|
|North Dakota||North Dakota Gaming Commission (NDGC)||21|
|Ohio||Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC)||18|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma Indian Gaming Commission (OIGC)||18|
|Oregon||Oregon Racing Commission (ORC)||21|
|Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB)||21|
|Rhode Island||Rhode Island Lottery (RIL)||18|
|South Carolina||South Carolina Education Lottery (SCEL)||18|
|South Dakota||South Dakota Commission on Gaming (SDCG)||21|
|Tennessee||Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation (TELC)||18|
|Texas||Texas Lottery Commission (TLC)||18|
|Utah||Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Consumer Protection (UDC-DCP)||21|
|Vermont||Vermont Lottery Commission (VLC)||18|
|Virginia||Virginia Lottery (VAL)||18|
|Washington||Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC)||18|
|West Virginia||West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC)||18|
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Gaming (WDA-DG)||21|
|Wyoming||Wyoming Gaming Commission (WGC)||18|
The landscape of online gambling legality in the USA is intricately tied to both geographical location and the specific nature of the gambling activity in question. The transformative 2018 Supreme Court decision, which overturned PASPA (the federal ban on sports betting), not only marked a significant turning point in the expansion of gambling but also introduced complexities to the realm of Internet gambling legality.
To comprehend the nuances of gambling legislation in the US, consider the following key points:
|Regulatory Focus||The primary focus of most US states and jurisdictions is on regulating gaming operators rather than individual online gamblers.|
|Regulatory Gaps||A significant number of states lack updated regulations specifically tailored for online gambling, relying on laws formulated long before the Internet's inception.|
|Offshore Licensing||Numerous online gambling platforms catering to US customers operate under offshore licensing, introducing an additional layer of complexity to the regulatory landscape.|
|Adherence to US Laws||Gambling websites are required to adhere to US laws and regulatory standards, ensuring a level of oversight within the online gambling sphere.|
As a result, the unregulated nature of online gambling exists within a legally gray area. The absence of a clear demarcation between what is legal and what is not renders activities such as online betting, playing table games, and participating in live casino games on top gambling sites generally considered permissible.
It's crucial to note that while our analysis is grounded in comprehensive research and a comparative study of US gambling laws, we are not legal experts. Therefore, before engaging in online gaming in your state, it is advisable to seek professional legal counsel to ensure strict compliance with relevant regulations.
1961 – Federal Wire Act: Initially targeting interstate sports wagering, this law did not extend its scope to cover other forms of gambling.
Early 1990s: Witnessing the rise of online gambling, this era lacked legal guidelines to regulate platforms, allowing easy access for US players without stringent oversight.
1992 – Introduction of PASPA: The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, also known as the Bradley Act, aimed to define the legal status of sports betting throughout the United States. This act, which effectively outlawed sports betting nationwide, excluding a few states, remained in force until it was judicially overturned in 2018.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a 1992 federal law, restricts all but a handful of states from legalizing sports gambling.
2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA): While not explicitly banning online gaming, this legislation barred US-based payment processors and financial institutions from facilitating transactions involving online gaming services. Consequently, numerous online gambling operators relocated their businesses offshore.
2011 DOJ Opinion: In a pivotal 2011 announcement, the Department of Justice clarified that the Wire Act pertained solely to sports betting, thereby excluding online casino gaming and poker. This interpretation paved the way for states like Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada, and subsequently Pennsylvania and West Virginia, to authorize and oversee online gaming activities.
2018 – Repeal of PASPA: The US Supreme Court's repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018 marked a turning point. This federal prohibition on sports betting gave individual states the authority to legalize sportsbooks, creating new opportunities for online gambling. In essence, this shift implies that, in the absence of a new federal law, each state can now independently formulate and enforce its own laws and regulations regarding sports betting.
Post-2018: Witnessing a gradual, state-by-state regulation, online sports betting gained legal status. As of January 2023, mobile sports betting was sanctioned in 26 states and Washington DC.
Ongoing: Offshore websites persist in offering casino-style games and sports betting to US players. However, potential payment issues underline the importance of players verifying the licensing and regulation status of these sites to avoid unwittingly engaging with blacklisted casinos.
Expected Developments: Anticipated advancements indicate that more states are progressively opening up to online gambling, reflecting a broader shift in the regulatory landscape.
This overview delves into the legal landscape of social gaming within individual states, exploring the consequences for engaging in unlawful gambling activities. Examining the application of the Dominant Factor Test, it distinguishes between games predominantly reliant on chance and those emphasizing skill. The discussion encompasses the nuanced realm of social gambling, detailing the legal distinctions between misdemeanors and felonies, as well as the categorization of simple versus aggravated gambling offenses. Additionally, the summary addresses the presence of express internet prohibitions, highlighting the legal frameworks governing online gambling activities within the context of state laws.
The Dominant Factor Test is a legal standard used to determine whether a particular activity, such as a game or contest, should be classified as a game of chance or a game of skill. This test is often employed in the context of gambling laws to assess whether a certain game is subject to regulations governing games of chance or if it falls under the category of games of skill.
The test evaluates which element—chance or skill—is the predominant or dominant factor influencing the outcome of the activity. Here's a breakdown of how the Dominant Factor Test works:
|List of States Where The Dominant Factor is Applied|
|Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Dist. of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming|
In summary, the key distinction lies in the degree to which chance or skill determines the outcome. Games of chance rely more on luck and random events, while games of skill involve a higher level of player influence, strategy, and decision-making. Some games may fall along a spectrum between pure chance and pure skill, with varying degrees of each element influencing the results.
Social gambling typically refers to gaming activities conducted in a “social context,” where participants engage in contests or games without anyone involved, including players or organizers, earning anything from managing the event. This often excludes activities where someone acts as the “house” or takes a rake in a poker game. The legality of social gambling in the United States can vary depending on state laws. Let's us illustrate the concept with a simple example:
Suppose Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, long-time friends and colleagues, decide to host a private poker night at Arnold's residence. They invite a few close friends to join them for an evening of friendly poker games. In this scenario:
In essence, social gambling is characterized by its non-commercial nature, emphasizing friendly and informal gameplay within a social setting.
|List of States Where Social Gambling is Allowed|
|Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming|
States may differentiate between simple and aggravated gambling offenses. Simple gambling offenses often involve smaller-scale, private activities, while aggravated offenses may involve larger sums of money, organized criminal activity, or other aggravating factors.
In essence, the key difference lies in the severity of the gambling activity and the presence of aggravating factors. Simple gambling tends to involve less serious, often casual, and individual activities, while aggravated gambling involves more significant violations that may have a broader impact, involve higher stakes, or include criminal elements. The legal consequences for each can vary based on jurisdiction and specific legal frameworks.
In states where social gambling is prohibited, the consequences for engaging in such activities can vary. In some cases, it may be considered a misdemeanor offense, resulting in lesser penalties. However, in states with stricter gambling laws, it could be classified as a felony, carrying more severe consequences. Distinctions between a “misdemeanor” and a “felony” vary across states, introducing inconsistency in the legal categorization. While some states differentiate based on the potential place of incarceration, such as city or county jail versus a state penitentiary, others rely on the duration of the possible sentence. In many jurisdictions, the predominant approach involves categorizing a punishment of one year or less as a misdemeanor and a longer sentence as a felony.
|Penalty for Aggravated Gambling||List of States|
|Misdemeanor||Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia|
|Felony||Alaska, Arizona, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming|
The term “Express Internet Prohibition” refers to whether a state has specific laws or regulations explicitly prohibiting online gambling. The presence of express internet prohibition laws varies from state to state, reflecting the diversity of regulatory approaches to online gambling across the United States. States without express prohibitions may either allow online gambling or may not have specific legislation addressing the online aspect of gambling, relying on broader gambling laws that may apply to both online and offline activities. States with express internet prohibition laws typically aim to regulate or restrict online gambling within their jurisdictions.
|Express Internet Prohibition||List of States|
|States Without Express Internet Prohibition||Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming|
|States With Express Internet Prohibition||Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin|
This segment provides a closer examination of pivotal regulations, such as the Federal Wire Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). By exploring the historical context, legal interpretations, and the impact of these laws, we aim to offer a nuanced understanding of their influence on the intricate world of U.S. gambling.
The Federal Wire Act, officially known as the Interstate Wire Act of 1961, has a complex and evolving history that extends beyond its initial enactment. Here are some key additional points to complement the historical overview:
|The Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars saga unfolded during the online poker boom of the mid-2000s. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted executives of major online poker platforms, including Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, in an event dubbed “Black Friday.” Full Tilt Poker faced severe financial mismanagement, leading to a shortfall in player funds and a global inability for players to access their money. In a settlement with the U.S. government, PokerStars, a financially stable competitor, acquired Full Tilt Poker's assets. PokerStars, having segregated player funds, also settled with the DOJ, forfeiting $547 million. The acquisition aimed to repay Full Tilt players and allowed PokerStars to reenter the U.S. online poker market in 2016, marking a significant chapter in the evolving narrative of online poker regulation and industry dynamics.|
The Federal Wire Act's complex history, reinterpretations, and ongoing debates reflect the dynamic nature of U.S. gambling laws and their responses to technological advancements and industry shifts.
PASPA was designed to address concerns about the potential for corruption in sports due to widespread betting. However, its impact led to a limited number of states being allowed to engage in sports betting, creating an environment where only a handful of states could offer legal sportsbooks. The law faced legal challenges over the years, and its pivotal moment came in 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA, opening the door for individual states to legalize and regulate sports betting. The repeal marked a significant turning point, allowing states to independently shape their sports betting laws and regulations.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is a U.S. federal law enacted in 2006 as part of the Safe Port Act. UIGEA targets online gambling operators and financial institutions involved in transactions related to unlawful online gambling activities. The law aims to restrict the flow of funds to such operators by placing restrictions on payment acceptance for unlawful internet gambling.
This comprehensive table outlines key gambling-related laws, both at the federal and state levels, providing a valuable resource for understanding the legal framework governing various aspects of gambling activities. From foundational federal laws like the Wire Act and UIGEA to state-specific regulations covering Indian gaming, sports betting, and lottery operations, this compilation aims to offer insights into the diverse legal landscape surrounding gambling in the U.S. The provided references allow for further exploration of each law's text, facilitating a deeper understanding of the regulatory mechanisms governing this dynamic industry.
|Federal Wire Act of 1961||Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988|
|Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006||Sports Bribery Act of 1964|
|Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992||Travel Act|
|Department of Justice (DOJ) Opinion (2011) on the Wire Act||Hobbs Act of 1946|
|Interstate Wire Act of 1961||Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)|
|Federal Travel Act||Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA)|
|Gambling on Cruises: US Gambling Ship Act|
|Wagering Paraphernalia Act|
|Illegal Gambling Businesses|
|Rico Act of 1970|
|Interstate Wagering Amendment of 1994|
|Transportation of Gambling Devices Act of 1951|
|Bank Records and Foreign Transaction Act of 1970|
|Money Laundering Control Act of 1986|
|Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986|
Welcome to our in-depth exploration of online gambling legality across the United States. In this comprehensive guide, we provide a state-by-state analysis to answer the pivotal question: Is online gambling legal in your area? Delve into the matrix below for a detailed breakdown of gambling legislation, covering key aspects such as online casinos, sports betting, poker, horse racing, fantasy sports, and lotteries. Gain valuable insights into the diverse regulatory landscape that shapes the digital gaming experience in each state.