Is Online Gambling Legal In The U.S.A.?

Anyone thinking about joining a real money betting site online ought to be familiar with United States gambling law before they jump in. Legality is one of the most important things to consider when signing up with an internet betting site. It is imperative that you make sure you are familiar with all the major US betting laws: what they say, what they mean, and what the consequences are for breaking them. That is why we have created this page to help you navigate through the labyrinth that is US gambling law.

This page will tell you all about the legality of gambling in the United States. It will start by focusing on the three major laws that affect wagering in the US. Each law will be broken down and explained in detail. Next, we will give you some information on the legal issues surrounding deposits and payouts at online gambling sites. Finally, we will explain some of the major differences between online and land-based casinos, followed by a couple recommendations of quality legal online sportsbooks.

Federal Laws That Affect Online Gambling In The United States

There are three major laws that dictate the types of gambling that are allowed in the United States. These laws allow certain states to write their own state statutes regulating betting. Sometimes state and federal laws conflict, and there is a disparity between what federal and state law actually says. This next section will set the record straight. We shall start chronologically and take the DeLorean way back to 1961.

The 1961 Wire Act

1961 was the year when the New York Yankees beat the Cincinnati Reds in five World Series Games, with Roger Maris hitting his 61st single-season home run, beating a record previously established by Babe Ruth. It was also the year that Congress passed the Wire Act, which made it a crime to transfer funds or information pertaining to the placing of bets or wagers across state lines using a wire communications facility. Congress passed this law as a response to the increase in organized crime related to gambling. By 1961, the mafia had its hand in many different pots, including sports betting and casino gambling. The Wire Act was an attempt by the government to make it more difficult for the mob to make money off casino gambling and bookmaking.

The Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, better known as PASPA, affects sports betting and bookmaking exclusively. It was passed in 1992, during a time when there was a spike in sports gambling-related corruption. PASPA went further than the Wire Act, flat-out eliminating sports betting altogether except for in a few states. Nevada and Delaware had legal sports betting for years, so it was decided that they should be allowed to write their own laws regulating bookmaking. Most of the other states were offered no such opportunity, and the ones that did, like New Jersey, did not take advantage of the one-year window of opportunity. Because of PASPA, the only legal sportsbooks in the US are in Nevada and Delaware.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

The 2006 law known as the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) mainly puts restrictions on the ways that online gambling sites can transfer money to and from accounts. It is a particularly controversial law for several reasons. Not only do many politicians say the UIGEA is unconstitutional, but it also was attached to the back of a totally unrelated bill, the Safe Port Act. What is an online gambling law doing on the end of a bill that pertains to shipping and maritime security? We have no idea. To add insult to injury, some lawmakers have claimed that they were not allowed to see the final version of the bill before voting on it.

Will I Get In Trouble For Using An Online Gambling Site?

All this background on gambling law has lead up to this one question, the answer to which is an unequivocal “no.” You will not get in trouble for using an online gambling site because you are not breaking any laws as long as you use a site that functions outside of the United States. Sites that function overseas are not bound by US law, and that is why they can operate legally while sites based inside the US cannot, unless they are in Nevada or Delaware. Perhaps most importantly, there is no law to stop a person from using an online gambling site. PASPA, the Wire Act, and the UIGEA only exist to prevent criminals from making huge profits off illegal gambling.

Legal Age Requirements

The legal gambling age changes depending on what state you live in and what type of gambling you are doing. While the absolute minimum age to join a legal online gambling site is 18, different states have different laws. In some states, the legal betting age is as high as 21. Some states have different ages for each type (casino, pari-mutuel, lottery, etc.) of gambling. Other states do not have any specific age laws at all, or the laws are vague. Your best option is to check your state age law to make sure you are legally old enough to gamble. While it is unlikely, it is possible to get in trouble with the law for underage gambling, and you could end up paying a hefty fine or even end up spending some time in jail. Covering your bases and checking your state age law is a small inconvenience when you consider the alternative.

Can I Legally Deposit & Withdraw Cash At Online Gambling Sites?

Yes, you can legally deposit money at an online gambling site as long as the site functions outside of the United States. That way, you are not violating any of the provisions of the Wire Act or the UIGEA, because those laws only affect sites that are based inside the United States. The UIGEA does affect money transfers to overseas sites in one very small way: you are not allowed to use credit cards to make withdrawals. That’s okay, though, because there are plenty of other ways to get your money out of your account, such as bank wire, check, Western Union, and Bitcoin.

Legal Land-Based Vs. Online Casinos

United States law is not nearly as restrictive when it comes to land-based casinos. You can find traditional casinos in approximately 35 states. While Nevada has the largest number by far, chances are that your state has at least a few land-based options. Many of these casinos are on Native American Territory and (similar to overseas real money online casinos) do not have to follow US gambling laws. Land-based casinos certainly have their appeal. For example, the Las Vegas Strip is a unique experience, full of bright lights and mobs of people. Oftentimes, if you spend a lot of money playing at a large casino, you can get complimentary drinks, passes to shows, and even hotel rooms. Large casinos also have good restaurants, shopping options, etc.

When it comes to convenience, however, online casinos have the edge over land-based ones. You do not have to leave your house, you don’t have to spend money on parking or deal with large crowds, and you can get exclusive member benefits and bonuses. Most online sportsbooks offer a Welcome Bonus to all new members, which can save you up to 50 percent on your first deposit. This is something you are less likely to find at a land-based casino. In addition, online casinos oftentimes have better wagering options and more extensive game lines, if sports betting is your thing.

Best Legal Online Gambling Sites For US Players

You can find gambling sites aplenty on the internet, but unfortunately, not all of these are sites that you can trust. Many of the sites you will find online have sketchy reputations. Rather than take a gamble and give your money to a site you do not know much about, you would do better to take our advice and sign up with one of the safe and legal gambling sites featured below. These websites have great reputations and offer a wide range of awesome features and member benefits.

Bovada - Legally Bet On Sports and Horses, Plus Play Poker and Casino Games

One of the most beloved and trusted online gambling sites on the web is Bovada. They offer every type of gambling you could ever want, from sports betting to casino games to horseracing. At Bovada, you will find poker rooms, slots, keno, roulette, blackjack and tons more. Players from most states in America are free to join at no charge. Bovada only accepts players who are 18 and older, so make sure you are of legal betting age before you sign up.

Bovada is based out of Quebec, Canada in the Mohawk Territory. Because it is located outside of US boundaries, it is exempt from US law. Bovada is regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and is the proud holder of a complete gaming license as well as the gaming commission’s Certificate of Good Standing. Bovada has millions of loyal members who gamble on a regular basis. Member benefits include everything from exclusive bonuses and special promotions to extras like live in-game wagering and mobile betting. So sign up today and find out why all the pros bet on Bovada!

5Dimes - One Of The Top Legal Online Betting Sites

When it comes to amazing customer rewards and member benefits, 5Dimes exists on a higher level than other online casinos. You can bet on almost anything you can imagine, from sports to casino and poker games to horseracing and beyond! You can get super-saving bonuses like reduced juice, New Player Rewards, MatchPlay Casino Bonuses and half a dozen more. Plus, extras like mobile and live betting make wagering quick and easy. 5Dimes accepts all US players as long as they are old enough to bet.

5Dimes began in 1996 in San Jose, Costa Rica. In the subsequent two decades, it has developed a stellar reputation. This is in part due to the great features 5Dimes offers, from the wide variety of odds and wager types to things like reduced juice, which saves you 50 percent on your betting interest. 5Dimes is also one of the safest online gambling sites around, featuring security measures and protocols like encryption and firewalls that help guard against cyberattacks. In addition, 5Dimes features a super-duper customer service department that puts members first!