Reading about USA gambling laws will probably set your head spinning. Here we try to put the basics into perspective for you in a brief article.
Gambling in the USA
Some gambling laws in the USA are centuries old, others are still evolving. With federal, state and local laws to consider it is complex to understand in overall terms and especially, geographically.
Living in the US you might generally think US gambling laws are not forbidding. For example, lotteries are run by 44 states. It is not difficult to find cards rooms, they operate in most towns and cities. Many bars and restaurants have limited betting gaming machines. However, the biggest gambling venues are the tribal casinos which operate in more than half of the states in the US.
During 2015, revenue in the US from gambling was 70 billion dollars. That gives an idea of the scope of gambling in the USA. Annual growth is around 3% per annum.
US Gambling Laws in General
In the early days USA gambling laws were almost non-existent. The wild west was difficult to control until the individual states wrote their own constitutions. Not surprisingly, history caused gambling to be banned throughout the USA. However, individual states have been able to introduce gambling in some form or another.
Gambling Laws for Landbased Casinos
Nevada and Louisiana are the only two states in which casino gambling is legal across the states. There are hundreds of licensed casinos across Nevada, mostly in Las Vegas. Atlantic City in New Jersey is also a popular gambling hotspot.
Most casinos in the US have hotels attached in recognition that most gamblers will be visiting from states where casinos are not legal. There are more than sixty thousand hotel rooms across Las Vegas. Read about Las Vegas Gambling Laws.
Gambling Laws for Online Websites
US gambling laws changed dramatically in 2005 when the Gambling Enforcement Act was passed. Since the mid 1990’s Americans had been able to use internet gambling websites and Federal Government decided to put a stop to it some 10 years later. Strangely, the new act did not target online websites, it just made it illegal for banks to process transactions between online casinos and players.
By 2011 the FBI took action to ban some gambling websites. The result was that American players are now restricted from using legal gambling websites. American players are free to use largely unregulated offshore gambling websites and many do. It just means payments are more complicated and take longer because the money trail has to be cleaned up. Many of these online websites use third-party eWallet brokers to make or receive payments.
Despite this, there are still three states where government regulated internet gambling is permitted. They are New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. Pennsylvania and California are considering modifying their laws to permit online gambling.
Native American Gambling
Quirky though it seem, Indian native American reservations are outside the scope of US Gambling Laws. The 1988 Indian Gaming Act saw these reservations placed outside of the scope state gambling laws. Native Indians enjoy special gambling rights under the US Constitution on their own land.
This certainly did open up gambling across the US, there are more than 400 tribal casinos flourishing all over America.
If you live in America you are probably aware of some of the more localise USA gambling laws. We have tried to avoid local aspect of the law for brevity.
Read more about gambling laws in the Americas including the Caribbean:
Read more about gambling laws in other countries.