There’s no U.S. National law against gambling online
There’s no U.S. national law against gaming online. At the federal level, betting on the internet is perfectly legal, because of the absence of a law against it. It’s possible to run afoul of state law (especially in extremely conservative states), however there prosecution is extremely rare, and penalties are usually minor.
U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway confessed in a House hearing that only placing wagers online doesn’t violate federal law. No American has ever been arrested, indicted, or prosecuted by the feds for gambling online, because there’s no law against it. If online gaming were illegal I would not be running his website for nineteen decades, as an American citizen, living in the U.S., using my actual name. And I sometimes gamble online, also, and I admit that publicly, like I am doing at this time.
This may be confusing as the other outlets erroneously noted that Congress prohibited online gaming in 2006. Those reports are simply wrong. The 2006 law makes it illegal for banks to maneuver gambling money once the stakes are already prohibited (including from a country law), but does not make it illegal for gamers to make bets. The law just does not create or extend any ban on gambling itself. In fact, the law states quite clearly,”No provision of this subchapter shall be construed as altering, limiting, or expanding any Federal or State legislation or Tribal-State compact prohibiting, permitting, or regulating gambling within the United States.” You can see for yourself by checking out the entire text of the law.
While you do not break any federal laws from putting bets online, it is not legal to run a gambling operation (i.e., to accept bets), but in those few countries where it is explicitly legal and the operator is accredited. So don’t think you can begin an internet casino or operate Facebook raffles.
And yes, the FBI published a scary warning online in which they claimed that putting bets on the internet is against law. In summary, they lied, and the DoJ eventually reversed that place anyway. (more on that)
States where online gambling is explicitly legal
Not many countries have specific laws against online gambling, though many have laws against gambling generally, which apply both to offline and online gambling. A small handful of countries have legalized online gambling, provided that you perform one of the couple of approved online casinos. In some countries, only certain kinds of gambling may be legal (e.g., poker). The countries That Have legalized some form of Internet gambling are:
Delaware became the first state to legalize online gambling, in June 2012, and the third to start (Nov. 26, 2013). (USA Today, Delaware Online, Casino.org)
Nevada became the first state to legalize online gaming (well, poker at least), on Feb. 21, 2013 (CBS) and launch on April 30. (LVRJ)
New Jersey became the third state to legalize online gambling (poker + casino), signed into law in February 2013, and launch on Nov. 25th. (NJ Poker Online)
Be aware that Bovada will not accept players from such states, nor will they accept players out of Maryland or New York.
The District of Colmbia became the first jurisdiction to legalize online gambling in the U.S., in April 2011. On the other hand, the measure was repealed in February 2012 until it ever became active. (NY Times)
State violations of gambling are usually misdemeanors
Even if states do not allow players to gamble, the penalties are almost always light. The only nations where simple gaming is a felony would be the two Washingtons: Washington, DC, and Washington state. (source) In many nations simple gaming is just a misdemeanor, and in Arkansas and Colorado it’s a straightforward petty offense, like a traffic ticket. (source)
States with an online gambling prohibition
Even states that prohibit gambling in general usually do not have a particular ban on online gambling. When it’s against the law to gamble on your state, that applies offline and online, even if the law does not mention online. However, a couple of countries do specifically outlaw online gaming. Those countries are:
Nevada (go figure)
Resource: Gambling Law U.S.
Participants convicted of violating State laws I know of two instances where a participant ran afoul of state laws (in exceptionally conservative nations ), both of whom were billed under their nation’s overall anti-gambling legislation, no specific anti-online-gambling law:
North Dakota. Jeffrey Trauman paid a $500 fine on which was likely over $100,000 in online sports bet winnings, in 2003. (Betting & the Law)
Oklahoma. Online sports bettor Roland Benavides was billed in 2011 and at 2012 received a deferred sentence (meaning that if he does not violate the conditions of his probation, he will probably face no jail time). (Information OK)
Kentucky seized domain names A Kentucky judge consented to allow Kentucky capture 141 gambling-related domains, on the spurious grounds that a domain name comprised a”gambling device” under state law. But even if it were clear that gaming domains violated Kentucky law, the seizure was still absurd, because by that logic any nation could seize any domain anywhere in the world if the website happened to violate its regional law. In any case, as FlushDraw said,”Just a small number of US-based registrars complied, and the seizures themselves were left somewhat moot when most of the domains jumped to non-US registrar services and stopped using”.com” domains”
The Kentucky Court of Appeals quickly overturned the seizure action, but the State appealed. I could not find any upgrades involving 2014-2018 (EFF 2008, KY appealed in 2009, 2014 ruling)
Taking bets is prohibited It has always been contrary to federal law to take sports bets over the Web (not to make them). In other words, you can not set up a website and take sports bets from the public. The legislation that prohibits that is called the Wire Act. For many years the feds said that the Wire Act applied to accepting poker and casino stakes also. Then in 2011 they reversed themselves and said the Wire Act applied only to sports. (Forbes) Subsequently in 2019 they reversed themselves and returned to the previous position that the Wire Act actually applies to accepting poker and casino stakes as well. (origin ) Though again, putting bets stays perfectly legal under national law. The challenge is finding a respectable place to perform . Due to the legal problems, there aren’t many operators operating the entire U.S., and many of those which do are kind of sketchy. That’s why I promote only Bovada on this website, because they’re the best one for U.S. players.
States can now offer sports gambling In May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a law which prohibited sports gambling in most countries but Nevada. This allows individual states to legalize sports gambling should they choose to do so. On the other hand, the court’s judgment doesn’t talk to the Wire Act, so online sportsbooks still violate federal law (for the operator, not the participant ). (Forbes)