It may seem that the United States has been very slow when it comes to reacting to online gambling. In fact, when online gambling sites started appearing in the early ‘90s, there were not even any legal guidelines set in place to regulate the operations of these sites, even though their services are easily accessed by US –based players.
This, however, changed in the year 2006, when then-US President George Bush signed the Safe Ports Act–law that had a section that made it illegal for US banking institutions to allow their customers to send money to gambling sites offshore.
The fact is, before 2006, any US resident could quite easily gamble online by using any of their US issued debit or credits cards to fund their accounts. Then again, when the aforementioned law took effect on that year, all US banking institutions were legally required to block all these types of payments, making it extremely difficult for US-based players to fund their online gaming bankroll.
As the years have gone by, many US States have started to look at online gambling sites, and several of them have placed their own robust sets of regulations that will allow gambling sites located in certain US states to operate legally after applying for and being granted a gambling license, but only within state boundaries.
There are still a lot of websites offering casino-type games that are located offshore that accommodate US-based players, though. However, sending and requesting money from those sites might take some time and in doing such, players are encouraged to exercise extra vigilance in checking where the gambling site of their choosing is licensed and regulated before they start playing, because they will have very little protection should they encounter any kind of issues or problems with an unlicensed and offshore gambling website.
Understand the Gambling Laws in Your State
Click on the each state below to learn that state’s gambling laws.
Online Gambling in the United States: The Most Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are these US online casino and/or poker sites offering fair play?
This is perhaps the most important question anyone who wants to dabble with online gambling may have in mind. Over the years, there have been some sites that have been exposed as offering rigged outcomes, and this is the very reason why you need to take caution when playing in unregulated offshore online gaming sites and stick only with legal and US based gambling sites as much as possible.
2. Is there a way to tell if a gambling site is legal or not?
One way to ascertain the legality of a site is to look for the logo of the licensing authority that issued the site its license to start its gambling operations. If it is licensed in any US state, then you will find it listed on the gaming board’s website.
3. Can a player still gain or earn comps while playing online?
The short answer is yes. However, you might find that player rewards from an online setting are a lot higher than what is being offered at most land-based casinos.
4. What types of games can players gamble on online?
Online gaming sites offer a slew of game categories like slots, poker, and bingo games, much like any other traditional casinos. In fact, most online casinos offer way better options when it comes to their game offerings.
5. Are there mobile gambling sites that are available to US residents?
Yes, as long as you are within the state boundaries of any of the states that have legalized gambling. In that case, you would not have any problems accessing those websites for mobile gambling on your phone. Just be aware though that most online gambling sites have geolocation tracking software to determine whether you’re trying to access their sites via an IP that’s outside the state. If you are, then you won’t be able to view and enjoy their games.
6. Is there a need to declare one’s winnings from gambling?
Yes, all winnings from an online casino should be declared just like what you’ll do with your winnings from a land-based casino. For taxation purposes, you’ll have, of course, access to your gaming history and win-loss ratios granted that you’ve played at a licensed US based gambling site.
7. Is there a way to determine if online gambling sites conduct their games in a fair manner?
If you will be playing at US State licensed online sites, it is guaranteed that the games are random and checked thoroughly to ensure fairness.
8. My card keeps getting declined when I use it to deposit payments to gambling sites. Why is that happening?
A lot of US banking institutions have since put a block on card transactions that are made to fund gambling accounts online. Whilst most of the banks have now lifted those restrictions following the legalization of gambling at many US States, you are still better off contacting your bank representative should you encounter a block on your account to see if it can be lifted.
9. Can I use US Dollars as currency when I gamble online?
When playing with state licensed gambling sites, you will always be asked to deposit payments in US dollars. However, should you decide to play at an offshore gambling site, you may be presented an option to deposit or play with a different currency, in which case you may be subject to a range of currency exchange fees and other charges.
10. How old should one be before being able to participate in online gambling?
One should be over 21 years of age before being permitted to gamble online. The gambling laws in US states are pretty rigid when it comes to the ages of its players. While casino gambling is only allowable to people over 21 years old, there are some states, New Jersey for example, that allow 18 year olds to legally buy lottery tickets but not gamble at actual casinos.
11. Are there online poker sites offshore that allow entry to US-based players?
Certainly, but you need to exercise a lot of caution when doing so. Do a lot of research to find reputable sites that are licensed by the fair gaming commissions from their country of origin.
12. Will I face any legal consequences if I am caught playing online poker in the US?
With each state having a set of laws that cover gambling, this is the kind of question that has no real or concrete answers. The shortest reply is that most states do not have specific penalties that can address the act of playing poker online. Most laws are created to penalize the operators of the games and not the players themselves. Furthermore, the gambling laws in the US were created prior to the invention of the Internet, which means that the laws regarding online activities are not completely settled just yet.