USA State Casinos
There are 48 states permitting some form of live gambling. Hawaii and Utah are the only two that do not. Online poker and casino games are available to players in every state, even though most have yet to regulate the activity.
Online United States Casinos offers a guide to all forms of gambling available to Americans, including both online and live gaming. On the bricks-and-mortar side, we take a look at casinos, horse racing, lotteries, bingo, among others, are covered. Online players enjoy popular favorites like poker, craps, blackjack, roulette, slots, and video poker are in our gaming guide.
Whether it’s online or live, we have it covered in our comprehensive U.S. gaming guide.
Click on the Map to View the State Casino Laws
USA Casinos – State Laws & Maps
- 48 States Regulate a Form of Gambling
- Lottery is Most Popular Form of Gambling
- Three States Regulate Online Gambling
- Online Gambling is Mostly a Grey Area
US Casinos is a complicated topic when it comes to legalization. All forms of gambling fall under states’ right except for sports betting. A federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act forbids states from expanding sports betting.
States are given the ability to define gambling in their own words. This means that some games, like daily fantasy sports contests, will be legal in some states but not others. Each state’s constitution addresses how gambling is permitted to expand. This often requires a constitutional amendment where voters have the final say after being first approved by the legislature. This can make the road to legal United States casinos a tricky one, especially in conservative states in the South.
Complicated Sports Betting Laws
Sports betting was a states’ right until 1992. That is when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was passed by Congress. It stopped the expansion of gambling on sports at the state level. Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon were the only states exempted from it because each had some form of legalized sports betting on the books at the time.
There is a discussion about a repealing PASPA. In the meantime, New Jersey is fighting its reach in federal court. The state lost its first attempt to legalize Nevada-style sports betting by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Online gambling also falls under a states’ rights issue. While always believed to be that way, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) codified that into law. The UIGEA exempts any intrastate gambling that is expressly permitted under state law. The only requirements are that there must be age and location verification services to prevent unauthorized access to sites. This permits poker, casino games, horse racing, lotteries and anything else that does not include betting on sports.
US State Casino and Gambling Information
US Casino History
US casino gambling dates back to 1822. That is when Brown’s Saloon opened near what is now the Colorado and Wyoming border. Casinos in USA dotted the west until the early 1900’s when a conservative movement removed them from every state, including Nevada. It was not until 1931 that gambling returned to Nevada. It was the only state that regulated casinos, although there were many underground networks along the Mississippi River and the East Coast until the 1950’s.
New Jersey was the second state to legalize casinos. That brought Atlantic City into the industry in 1978 with the opening of Resorts International. It took until 1989 for South Dakota, the third legal casino state, to open.
This momentum carried over into the 1990’s. It was not long before states along the Mississippi River and Native American casinos joined the action. By the end of the decade, every state that touches the Mississippi River had USA casinos, except Tennessee. Reservations in the West added casino gambling after creating compacts with states. The 2000’s saw an explosion of casinos in the northeast. This eventually led to massive losses in Atlantic City, which fell to the third largest gaming market in the country behind Pennsylvania in 2012.
These US casinos replaced more traditional forms of gambling like lotteries, bingo, and horse racing. The latter was the biggest victim of the revenue shift.
- 1931 – Nevada legalizes casinos – Pioneer Club, the country’s first regulated casino, opens in Las Vegas.
- 1949 – Nevada legalizes off-track betting on horses and sports betting.
- 1961 – Congress passes Wire Act to fight interstate sports betting.
- 1964 – New Hampshire becomes the first state with a lottery.
- 1976 – New Jersey voters approve a constitutional amendment to legalize casinos in Atlantic City.
- 1978 – Resorts International opens in Atlantic City.
- 1978 – Horseracing Act passes Congress. It gives horseracing exemption from Wire Act and future federal gambling laws.
- 1989 – South Dakota becomes third casino state, casinos open in Deadwood.
- 1991 – Iowa opens first riverboat casino in USA.
- 1992 – Congress passes Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which bans sports betting expansion.
- 1994 – First online casino launches in Antigua, United States players accepted.
- 1996 – Intertops accepts first online sports bet. The site still accepts Americans.
- 1998 – Planet Poker deals first real money online poker hand.
- 2001 – Nevada legalizes online poker. US Department of Justice convinces state it may be against federal law and it never goes live.
- 2003 – Chris Moneymaker wins World Series of Poker Main Event. He gained entry through $39 satellite at PokerStars.
- 2003 – Online poker boom begins, often attributed to Moneymaker win.
- 2006 – Congress passes Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Most poker and casino sites leave US market.
- 2009 – Delaware attempts to launch Nevada-style sports betting. Major sports leagues stop it in federal court.
- 2010 – Sports betting apps and websites go live in Nevada.
- 2011 – Washington D.C. City Council legalizes online poker and casino games through the DC Lottery.
- 2011– New Jersey Legislature legalizes online poker and casino games. Governor Christie vetoes bill.
- 2011 – Black Friday indictments unsealed against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. Charges initiated from US Attorney’s Office in Southern District of New York.
- 2011 – US Attorney’s Office in Maryland indicts a dozen sports betting sites. The action becomes known as Blue Monday.
- 2011 – US Department of Justice declares online poker, casino games, and lotteries legal if expressly approved by states.
- 2011 – Nevada Gaming Commission passes online poker regulations based on 2001 law.
- 2011 – New Jersey voters direct state legislature to pass sports betting regulations.
- 2012 – New Jersey Legislature legalizes sports betting. Sports league’s defeat law in federal court.
- 2012 – Washington D.C. City Council repeals online gambling law. The games never launched.
- 2012 – US Attorney’s Office in Maryland indicts Calvin Ayre and two others associated with Bodog.
- 2012 – Delaware Legislature passes a law giving state lottery ability to operate online poker and casino games. Network launches in November 2013.
- 2013 – Nevada Legislature passes framework for state online poker industry. Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com go live.
- 2013 – New Jersey Legislature passes online poker and casino bill. Governor Christie signs a bill into law after a conditional veto. Sites launch in November 2013.
- 2014 – New Jersey Legislature passes second sports betting bill. Sports leagues challenge the legality of the bill again. The case is still in federal court.
- 2014 – Delaware and Nevada enter poker liquidity sharing agreement.
- 2015 – WSOP.com in Nevada and Delaware Lottery’s poker network combine player pools.
- 2015 – Several state attorneys general declare daily fantasy sports gambling.
Online US Casinos
The 1990’s brought a new type of gambling to Americans. The Internet made it easy to play right from one’s own home. Online casinos offer all games that are found in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. This includes roulette, craps, blackjack, poker, slots, video poker and card games banked by the house. Sports betting is also common at casinos on the Internet.
The First States to Regulate
Due to the fast-moving pace of the market, state and local governments were not quick to embrace online gambling. Delaware and New Jersey are the only two states that regulated online casino games. Both also permit online poker. Nevada allows its casinos to offer online poker and mobile sports betting. Online horse racing is available in more than half of states while a few sell lottery tickets over the Internet.
One reason states were originally reluctant to legalize online gambling was because of an odd interpretation of the Wire Act by the US Department of Justice, which claimed states could not regulate the activity. This opinion surfaced after the Nevada Legislature drafted the first steps in legalizing online poker in the state. The Wire Act of 1961, which bans interstate sports betting, was the law cited for this opinion. Sports betting is the only form of gambling specified in the Wire Act.
The Department of Justice’s letter did not match with legal experts and in 2011, it was reversed. This opened the door for states to legalize intrastate online US casinos.
Online Gambling Expansion
The expansion of gambling to the Internet often requires the same legislative process as the legalization of USA casinos. Some state legislatures have adopted policies without a constitutional ballot under the position that voters already affirmed poker, casino games, horse racing, and lotteries. Other state lawmakers and attorneys general feel that even the regulation of daily fantasy sports would require a constitutional amendment. The complicated legislative process and the special interests are the reason why more states have not joined Delaware and New Jersey in regulating online slots, video poker, and table games.
Players in all states have access to online gambling. You just have to know where to look to get a safe and fair bet.