US Gambling Laws

Written by: Webster Lupton, Casino, Gambling, and Sports Journalist

Gambling is legal in some form across most of the USA. State-specific gambling laws regulate or restrict different types of gaming at the local level.

The legislation varies around land-based casinos, charitable events, sports betting, lottery, keno, bingo, and skill games, depending on where you reside.

Except for Utah, all other 49 states in the USA have legal gambling in some capacity. 

Gambling Laws

Everything You Need to Play Safely

Find Your State’s Laws

Warning Sign States Without Casinos and Gambling

States Where Gambling is Illegal

Utah is strict with a 100% total ban on all betting activities.
Hawaii only allows social games, like poker, played in private homes.
Alabama, Alaska, and Nevada have no state lottery.

Many states further restrict sports betting and commercial casinos. Still, most allow native tribes to run gambling establishments in compliance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Find Gambling Laws by State

Click on a US state below for more information on legal gambling and current restrictions. These pages include maps for land-based casinos and detailed legislation surrounding online betting, state lottery, and social gaming.

We strive to keep these pages updated regularly. However, we suggest you contact an attorney for specific legal advice.

Legal Online Gambling

The 1990s brought internet gaming to Americans, making it convenient to play at home. Online casinos offer all the classics, like roulette, craps, blackjack, poker, slots, and video poker.

Only a handful of states have legal online gambling regulated at the state level.

Expansion of Online Gambling Laws Throughout the States

Legal Online Gambling on Phone with Gavel

States were initially reluctant to legalize online casinos was because of The Wire Act of 1961.  However, Nevada presented an issue with the letter when trying to pass online poker legislation.

Sports betting is the only form of gambling discussed in the legislation. In turn, the wire act got reversed, and the door was open for states to legalize online US casinos.

Some Logistical Hurdles

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) has been somewhat of a headache for states trying to get on board with the online gaming market. It blocks payments from US banks from funding internet betting establishments.

Land-Based Casinos

In-person gambling is prevalent around the country. In addition to brick and mortar casinos, players can also wager on riverboats, dockside sites, racinos, bars, clubs, and skill game establishments.

Commercial Casinos

You find these in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Corporations like Wynn Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and MGM own and operate them.

  • Class III “Las Vegas Style” Games
  • Report Payback Percentages
  • Follow Beverage Restrictions

Native Tribe Casinos

Native peoples run these gambling businesses across the United States. A total of 524 tribal casinos operate in 30 of the 50 US states.

  • Mostly Class II Games
  • Available in More States
  • Free Reign Over Regulations

If you’re heading to Las Vegas, check out our survey of all casinos and available table games.

A Brief History of Regulated Gambling in the US

US casino gambling dates back to 1822 when Brown’s Saloon opened. Casinos in the USA dotted the west until the early 1900’s when a conservative movement removed them from every state, including Nevada.

In 1931, casinos returned to Nevada. Atlantic City hit the scene in 1978, and South Dakota followed suit 12 years later in 1989. Throughout the 90s, native reservations and states along the Mississippi river started opening.

Today, the states have the power to define gambling in their own words. That’s causing more regions to get on board and approve online casinos, sports betting, and poker rooms into the 2000s.

Complicated Sports Betting Laws

Legal Sport Betting Balls on Mobile Phone

Regulated betting in the US is a complicated topic when it comes to legalization. In 1992, The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act forbid states from expanding sports betting. However, in May of 2018, the Supreme Court issued an order and shot it down.

Since then, many states have rushed to open legal sportsbooks at existing casinos and racetracks. Some have even moved to allow online sports betting. Plus, sites like FanDuel make it possible to place fantasy wagers in addition to standard spreads and totals.

Enjoy Legal Gambling at Casinos Across the US & Online

Gambling is a pastime enjoyed by millions. Make sure you know the laws of each state, and you’re sure to have a good time. Who knows? You might even win some cash!

Gambling Tax Laws for Winnings

Did you know that your gaming income is taxable? We asked a certified public account to write our gambling taxes article and explain everything you need to know.

Frequently Asked Questions About US Casinos

Below are some of the common questions players ask about the US state-to-state gambling laws.

Where is gambling legal in the US?

In the United States, gambling is legal in 48 states in some capacity. Only Utah and Hawaii have a 100% ban on it. However, social poker games in private residences are allowed in Hawaii.

What US states don’t have casinos?

The following US states do not have casinos. Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia do not have any land-based or tribal casinos.

What states have legal sports betting?

In the USA, the following states have legal sports betting: Colorado, Delaware, Washington DC, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Are online casinos legal in the United States?

Yes, online casinos are legal in the United States. California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have regulated internet gambling. In other states, players join websites licensed by other countries. Finally, while it is technically a crime in Louisiana, Utah, and Washington, no player has ever been convicted.

Which states have regulated online poker?

In the US, there are four states with regulated online poker: Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Webster Lupton

Webster Lupton Casino, Gambling, and Sports Journalist

Webster Lupton is a journalist and expert sports and casino writer with over 30 years of experience. Webster is a seasoned researcher and a published author. He also enjoys the outdoors and birdwatching.

Learn More About Webster