Online Gambling Laws State by State 2021

Check out the current US Gambling State Laws

The world of online gambling is particularly complicated within the US, with bettors regularly asking about the states where gambling is illegal. So in this article, we’ll be shedding some light on the complex US online gambling laws.

Whether you’re keen to discover the gambling age by state, or you’d just like to know which states allow gambling, we’ve got all the information you need to know, so keep reading to find out more.

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The history of gambling in the USA

Gambling can be tricky to define, as it covers a whole host of activities. The aim is to risk something of value in the hope of winning something even more valuable, and it’s been enthralling people for hundreds of years. Some gambling games involve a degree of skill, such as poker or sports betting, in which knowledge of the subject can be of great advantage. But other types of gambling are based purely on chance, such as playing slots games, for example, which relies on random number technology and can’t be rigged in the player’s favor.

Gambling has been around in the US in one form or another since the earliest settlers arrived. Early games were based on the fall of dice, quickly moving on to encompass poker, which came to the US via the first French colonists. By the mid-19th century, poker was widespread across most states – a situation that was only called into question once prohibition took hold in the 1930s.

The introduction of gambling state laws

For a time, only state lotteries were allowed, since they brought in valuable revenue, soon to be joined by Bingo games. This is the time when gambling laws by state first came to public attention, as Nevada faced economic disaster. The construction of the Hoover Dam was financially crippling for the state, leading to the introduction of the 1931 Assembly Act, which was the first of the major gambling state laws to hit the headlines. The law allowed some games, such as Poker, to be legally played within the state, whereas sports betting was still prohibited.

By the 1950s, Southern Maryland made the decision to permit legal slots machines to operate within state lines. And by the end of the 1970s New Jersey had made gambling legal, helping Atlantic City to become an iconic gambling destination, along with Las Vegas in Nevada. And as the 21st century dawned, online gambling became a popular global pastime. New Jersey and Pennsylvania soon made the decision to allow legal online gambling to take place, with a number of other states expressing an interest in following their lead.

The state-by-state legislative approach explained

So, which states allow gambling? Today, the situation regarding online gambling is extremely complex, since there are no federal laws governing the activity. That leaves every state free to make up its own mind, and there’s very little consensus between them. And the legal situation is far from clear, with a network of laws that states can interpret in different ways – no wonder US bettors are so confused!

The main piece of legislature that affects online gambling in the US is the 2006 UIGEA, or Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This made it illegal for operators to run online gambling websites within the US, although it doesn’t prohibit US citizens from signing up to offshore gambling sites. So even in states where gambling is illegal, it’s possible to circumvent the rules.

A brief guide to gambling state laws

Because every state is allowed to decide its own legal position on gambling, it’s incredibly difficult for US bettors to establish what’s permitted, and which are the states where gambling is illegal. Some states that allow casinos, for example, might also allow racetrack betting but not other types of sports betting. And the position is changing all the time, as more states decide to allow some forms of betting, whilst blacklisting others.

What’s important to remember is that the laws tend to be aimed at the gambling operators, rather than the bettors. So although your state may not allow online casinos to operate within state lines, it’s still possible to sign up to offshore casinos which allow US residents to sign up and play.

Online gambling laws by state

We recommend bookmarking this page and checking back regularly to keep tabs on the online gambling laws by state, since they’re constantly subject to changes. Even the gambling age by state isn’t consistent, with some states allowing 18-year-olds to participate, although the majority insist that bettors must be aged 21 or over.

The first states to permit online gambling were Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and for several years these were the only options. But several states have seen a relaxation of the laws since then, with Delaware and Michigan also instigating a favorable change to their state laws, allowing residents to legally gamble online.

West Virginia has also passed legislation permitting online gambling, and other states are also seeing a relaxation of the laws, with Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa also starting to view the activity more favorably, along with New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Current state-by-state legality of iGaming in the US

There’s very little that’s straightforward when it comes to USA online gambling laws, so it’s no wonder that bettors are so confused. And as we’ve mentioned, the situation is constantly changing, so it pays to keep up to speed with all events across the states, including factors such as casino payouts by state. Although there are still plenty of states where gambling is illegal, that only applies to the operators, not the bettors, so there’s very little risk of prosecution – the worst that might happen is that you may struggle to find an acceptable account deposit and withdrawal method, but that’s explained in greater detail elsewhere on the site.

New Jersey

New Jersey is home to Atlantic City, one of the premier land-based casino destinations in the US, so it’s not much of a surprise to discover that it welcomes online gamblers too. There are plenty of online gambling sites accessible to NJ residents, a good range of sportsbook sites and New Jersey is also one of the few states that allow online poker. Players must be aged 21 or over to be able to sign up and deposit funds.


Pennsylvania has always been allied to sports, so it’s not too much of a surprise that residents can sign up to a range of online sportsbook operators. But if you can tear yourself away from those, you’ll also find an array of online casinos and poker sites too, so you’re only ever a click or a tap away from placing a wager. And you only need to be aged 18 or over to be able to take part in online casino gambling, bingo, lottery games, and horse racing betting. All other gambling activities are only permitted for those aged 21 or over.


Nevada is surely the spiritual home of gambling, being home to the bright lights and land-based casinos of Las Vegas. But surprisingly, online casinos aren’t yet permitted to operate legally within the state. Perhaps with so many bricks and mortar operators to choose from it’s felt that there’s no need for online operators too. But you can certainly enjoy online sportsbook betting, as well as online poker. You’ll need to be at least 21 to play either in person or online.


Delaware may be small, but the home state of Joe Biden packs a powerful punch when it comes to online gambling. It’s a little-known fact that Delaware was actually one of the first states to permit online betting, first in the form of state lotteries, but soon followed by other types of gambling, including online casinos, sportsbooks and poker sites. A quirk of the state laws means that although 18-year olds can legally sign up to online gambling websites within the state, they can’t actually play for real money payouts until they’ve reached the age of 21.


We’ve already mentioned that the online gambling laws by state are constantly changing, and Michigan is a case in point. Recent developments have meant that the state now permits residents to engage in a selection of online gambling activities, including casinos, sportsbooks, and poker sites. You’ll need to be aged 18 or over to play the state lottery, but only those over 21 can legally bet at a casino.

West Virginia

As in Michigan, you only need to be aged 18 or over to play the state lottery. The state has a long history of gambling before the tightening of the laws that closed the majority of online casinos across the states, but all that’s just changed. New legislation means that residents of West Virginia can now enjoy playing online casino games at state-registered and legal sites, together with online poker games and even online sportsbooks. This is just another sign that the gambling state laws aren’t set in stone.

Check out which type of online gambling your state allows!


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New Hampshire

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Rhode Island

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West Virginia

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Future changes to state gambling laws

As we’ve seen, there’s not a great deal of consistency even when considering the legal gambling age by state, and the same is true of casinos and sportsbook sites. The gambling laws by state are constantly being reconsidered, and there’s no signs that this situation is likely to change any time soon.

Traditionally there’s always been tension between the keen gambling enthusiasts and those who disapprove of the activity. Neither side has a clear advantage, although the human need for entertainment, risk, and the chance to make some extra money, means that gambling is unlikely to ever fall out of favor.

So what does the future hold for gambling state laws across the US? We don’t unfortunately have a crystal ball, but we can certainly make some educated guesses. And we’re always looking out for signs that particular states are considering changes to their online gambling legislation.

States going through the online gambling legalization process

At the time of writing, Maryland has put the question of online gambling to the test, with a resounding call from residents to allow it. A recent referendum shows that the majority are firmly behind the idea of allowing sportsbook gambling, so we anticipate big changes over the coming months.

The governor of Connecticut has also signed a bill this year allowing people in the state to enjoy a whole raft of gambling options, both in bricks and mortar premises and online. Connecticut residents are starting to get used to the idea that they’re now able to access a world of online gambling options, including online lotteries, casinos, and sports betting.

More changes on the way!

Also going through the legislative process is Illinois, which legalized online sportsbook betting in 2019, although it took a while for the laws to take hold. And now the state is also paving the way for online casinos and poker sites too.

There’s a similar situation going on in Indiana, which has also decided to allow sportsbook betting to take place online. However, a recent attempt to pass a bill allowing online casinos to operate within the state failed to win approval, although it’s likely to resurface in due course.

And Nebraska has also decided to permit land-based sports and casino betting, which bettors hope will ultimately lead to a relaxation of the online gambling laws in due course. Missouri is another state that US gambling fans are watching with great interest, as there’s growing support for online gambling options within the state.

Conclusion: the lowdown on online gambling laws by state

When it comes to online gambling laws US citizens have plenty of options, although they’re not always straightforward. There are some states that allow gambling at 18, although the majority insist that bettors must be at least 21, so it’s important to keep on the right side of the law by checking age restrictions in your home state.

As we’ve shown in this article, it’s not just gambling age by state that varies, it’s also factors like the gambling tax rate by state to take into account. There are still a few states where gambling is illegal, with Hawaii and Utah not permitting it any form at all. But examining the gambling laws by state shows that there is an increasing number of options now available, with more and more states considering their options. Be sure to keep checking back to find out the latest news about the US online gambling laws.

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 US online gambling laws FAQ  

👮 What is the legal gambling age in the US?

The gambling age by state can be 18 or 21, depending on the type of gambling activity and on the specific state. We’ve got all the information you need to know to find out where you can legally gamble online in the US, so don’t sign up to any operators until you’ve read what we have to say!

🎰 Which states have legalized online gambling?

Looking for a breakdown of the online gambling laws by state across the US? Then you need to pay us a visit! We’ve got all the details about what’s legal and what isn’t, and where to legally gamble online across the US. All this and casino reviews, how-to guides and brilliant bonus offers. Don’t even think about signing up to an online gambling operator without paying us a visit first!

🎲 Can I legally gamble online anywhere in the US?

When it comes to online gambling laws, United States citizens really have their work cut out trying to make sense of them. But you can spare yourself the trouble of researching the subject by reading our informative article, telling you everything you need to know. And when you’re ready to start gambling, we’ve got some incredible bonuses to get you off to a flying start!

💲 Is online gambling legal in every US state?

There’s no easy answer to this question. In some states gambling is illegal, but it’s a bit of a grey area when it comes to signing up to offshore gambling sites. Some states have legalized online gambling though, so read our article to find out where you can play, and help yourself to some tasty bonus offers at the same time!

👀 Can I get in trouble for gambling online in the US?

There aren’t any federal laws prohibiting online gambling in the US, so it’s down to individual states to make up their own minds about what is and isn’t legal. And it’s not a static process, with an increasing number of states considering legalizing online poker, sportsbooks, and casinos. Find out which states allow online gambling, and check out the top places to play – as well as some generous bonuses to get you started!


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