US Gambling Laws and Regulations

With a complex set of rules governing online gambling, it can be difficult to know where you stand as an American gambler. In this article, we’ll explain what forms of online gambling are legal or illegal in the US and provide resources for further reading. We’ll also discuss how federal and state laws impact your ability to gamble online and the potential consequences if you decide to do so without following all applicable regulations. Whether you’re looking for information about sports betting or casino games this page will help you better understand your options when it comes to playing legally in America.

The Federal Wire Act

The Federal Wire Act of 1961 was put into place with the purpose of preventing the use of wire communications for interstate or foreign commerce in order to transmit bets or wagers on a sporting event. It was implemented to help prevent organized crime and money laundering activities. This act applies to all forms of gambling that fall under the umbrella of interstate or international commerce, such as internet gambling.

Originally the act was meant to target illegal sportsbook operations and to prevent those businesses from using communication technology to take bets; however, it has since been interpreted by the U.S. Department of Justice as applying to all forms of online gambling, including casino games, poker, and bingo. The interpretation of this law has been a source of debate within the legal circles due to its seemingly broad scope and ambiguous wording.

The Federal Wire Act explicitly prohibits any person from using wire communications for transmitting bets or wagers across state lines, which can be interpreted as banning any type of online gambling transaction that involves states other than those in which it is legally permitted. In addition, it also bans any type of sports-related bet taking place within state borders unless specifically allowed by state law. As a result, some states have opted out from allowing any type of online gambling within their borders while others have passed legislation allowing certain types such as online poker rooms.

The implications for gambling businesses are significant since they must adhere strictly to both federal and state laws in order to remain compliant with regulations and avoid hefty fines or potential criminal charges associated with violations. Moreover, banks and payment processors are not allowed to process transactions related to illegal online gambling activities in violation of this act; therefore banks must implement strict compliance measures in order to ensure that their customers do not participate in prohibited activities.

The Federal Wire Act has been widely criticized by industry experts who argue that it is too outdated and overly restrictive given technological advancements over time which have enabled more efficient ways for consumers to gamble without relying on services such as wire communication networks that might be regulated by this act. Despite this criticism, the Act continues to be enforced throughout the United States and companies must continue abiding by its provisions if they wish stay on the right side of applicable laws governing online gaming operations.


The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 was the federal legislation created to supplement the Federal Wire Act and provide further restrictions on online gambling activities. This act is intended to make it difficult for international and offshore operators from accepting wagers and payments from US citizens. It does this by prohibiting financial institutions from knowingly processing deposits or withdrawals related to unlawful internet gambling, such as sports betting, casino games, or online poker. While UIGEA does not explicitly ban online gaming, it makes it virtually impossible for companies within the United States to offer these services without violating federal law. As a result, several major online gaming sites have chosen to stop offering their services in countries where it is prohibited. Overall, the US has maintained a strict stance on online gambling and regulations remain in place to ensure that citizens do not become involved with any activities violating federal or state laws. As technology and society evolve, it is likely that additional legislation will be introduced to better address the changing landscape of online gaming activities. In the meantime, companies must stay aware of both Federal Wire Act and UIGEA requirements if they wish to operate within the United States without facing potential legal repercussions.


The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 was a federal law that prohibited most states from authorizing or licensing sports betting activities.

This legislation effectively created a nationwide ban on sports betting, with the exception of Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon which were granted exemptions due to their existing laws at the time. As a result, this has left many Americans unable to participate in legal sports wagering despite its popularity across the country.

Fortunately, PASPA was recently overturned by the Supreme Court in 2018 which opened up opportunities for states to legalize and regulate sports betting within their borders. Now more than ever before it is possible for individuals to enjoy legal online gambling without fear of breaking any laws or facing potential penalties associated with violations. With new regulations being implemented throughout the United States each day it is easier than ever before for people to find safe and secure ways to engage in legal online gaming activities. So if you’re looking for an exciting way to make some extra money while enjoying your favorite sport then now is definitely the time!

State Gambling Laws in the US

State gambling laws in the US vary widely and depend on where you live. Some states, such as Nevada and New Jersey, have more lax regulations which allow for a variety of online gambling activities. On the other hand, some states are much stricter and only permit certain forms of gaming or prohibit all forms of online gaming altogether. As a result, it is important to stay up-to-date with your own state’s specific set of regulations before engaging in any form of online gambling or sports betting activities. Furthermore, some states are beginning to offer regulated online gaming sites that adhere to strict requirements in order to ensure a safe environment for consumers.

Sports betting, in contrast, is legal and active in a number of US states, including:

  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Nevada
  • Delaware
  • West Virginia
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • Iowa, Indiana
  • New York
  • Arkansas.

Oregon was the first state to launch mobile sports betting outside of Nevada in late 2019.

New Mexico has yet to introduce a mobile betting app for sports wagering on state-licensed platforms. The same applies for Delaware and Rhode Island. Currently both states only offer betting through land-based casinos or their respective lotteries. While there are no plans for an immediate mobile launch in New York State yet either; there are multiple bills that have been proposed by lawmakers advocating its legalization with the recent backing of Governor Cuomo.

Meanwhile Mississippi’s mobile sports betting platform is currently confined to physical casino locations; leaving the state’s many online operators unable to process online bets from anywhere else within the state’s borders.

The outlook looks promising with six additional states poised to take their first legal bets. These include Colorado, Illinois, Montana and North Carolina; who have all passed laws legalizing sports betting over the last year alongside Washington D.C., which has also given the green light for bettors to place wagers on sporting events via its lottery platform.

This nationwide legalization of sports gambling could open up a huge market as more than half of US states now offer some form of legalized gambling options—providing access to millions of eager bettors across the nation who can now participate legally in this pastime activity without fear of running afoul with law enforcement officials.

Therefore, it is essential to use these services if available in order to prevent any potential legal complications associated with illegal online gaming activities. Overall, the US is taking steps to ensure that citizens are able to enjoy legal online gambling activities without fear of violating any laws or regulations. Federal and state governments are beginning to recognize the importance of providing safe and secure environments for those interested in participating in legal gaming activities. With more states legalizing certain forms of online gambling and implementing strict regulations it is becoming easier than ever before for people to enjoy these activities without any potential repercussions. However, it is important to stay informed on your state’s specific set of laws before you engage in any form of online gaming or sports betting activity so that you can remain on the right side of the law!


Overall, it is clear that the US government is taking steps to ensure citizens can enjoy legal online gambling activities without fear of violating any laws or regulations. With more states legalizing certain forms of online gambling and implementing strict regulation standards, individuals are now able to safely participate in gaming activities with confidence. However, each state has its own set of rules and regulations so it’s important for players to stay informed on their local requirements before engaging in any form of online betting activity. By doing this they will be well-equipped to remain within the bounds of the law while still being able to take part in an enjoyable pastime activity!