US States Where Gambling is Legal – Guide to Retail & Online Bets

Posted by Dave Consolazio

Gambling in America is a mish-mash of statutes because there are only a couple of federal gambling laws in the US, leaving most of the power in the states’ hands.

Some states prohibit all forms of wagering, while others allow all types of betting, and certain states have mixed regulations.

This comprehensive guide covers what’s available in each US state and what to look for in an ever-changing betting landscape.

The map below illustrates how diverse US states are regarding gambling. We have included any form of lottery, social gaming, charitable games, and casinos.

Here is a brief summary.

  • 49 states out of 50 offer at least one form of legal wagering. (Hawaii was added because you can still play cards at home for little money.)
  • Forty-two states host some sort of land-based casino, either commercial or owned by Native American tribes.
  • Seven states have online casinos based in their states.
  • People in WA, UT, TN, KY, GA, SC, and VT have no access to any form of casinos other than sites based abroad.

Note: The map is a source of information for educational purposes. It does not serve as a legal guide or an opinion. Gambling laws in states change frequently.

US Gambling Guides

The links below take you to detailed descriptions of what types of gambling are available, the laws that apply to each of the 50 US states, and their approaches to gambling.

Remember that if your state is not on this list, you can still play casino games online for real money.

Gambling sites based offshore are available to gamblers in any state. They are regulated in foreign jurisdictions.

All of the following states have licensed and regulated online casinos inside their borders.

Best US States for Online Casinos

Online casinos based offshore are available anywhere in the US, offering competitive bonuses and fair deals that are tested and rated.

But, if you are playing in a state and want to make sure the casino profits go to that state, New Jersey is the place to be.

New Jersey has been in the online casino business for ten years, so they have built a solid reputation. The state offers 30 sites to choose from, and some of them provide live dealer games.

Michigan, having online casinos for five years, also ranks highly. They have nine in-state regulated options.

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In Which States Is Online Poker Legal?

Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan have legalized online poker rooms within their limits.

States Where Land-Based Casinos Are Legal

The following is a detailed breakdown of the states that offer some type of tribal and commercial land-based casinos in the US.

Best States for Land-Based Casinos

Just go to Nevada! There are more casinos per square mile in Las Vegas than in any place in the world. And you can shop around, to a certain extent.

The blackjack tables and video poker machines may offer better odds downtown than on The Strip. That’s all, not to mention the entertainment, food, and atmosphere.

If you’re traveling the East Coast, Atlantic City makes New Jersey a favorite state for casinos, too.

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Top States to Play Poker

Nevada rules the roost in poker by virtue of its online sites and the 50-plus poker rooms.

But California has 68 poker rooms and clubs, including giant facilities such as the 200-plus table Commerce Casino and the 110-table Gardens Casino.

Most rooms are in the southern part of the state, so if you’re on the West Coast, there’s your stop.

Poker is traditional in New Jersey, and Florida hosts more than 20 poker rooms, so they would be East Coast spots.

States Where Sports Betting Is Legal

The number of sports betting states has snowballed since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling allowed each state to decide on hosting sports wagering.

The map shows how different states approach sports betting regarding land-based and online offerings.

Note that some states have sports wagering proposals or legislation that have yet to gain official approval.

What States Allow Online Sports Betting?

Online sports betting in the USA varies state-by-state.

The states below offer licensed sportsbooks within their barriers. However, if you don’t see yours listed, you can still use sports betting sites located outside the United States.

Best States for Online Sports Betting

It’s always good to shop odds at multiple books when sports betting. So, offshore sportsbooks are a good option.

New Jersey is tops for being in a state, though. With more than 20 sites, NJ has the most competitive sports wagering atmosphere in the US.

Pennsylvania has more than a dozen sites to choose from and ranks high for online sports wagering.

Colorado has a slightly higher tax rate (4.4%) than the Eastern states, but they have more than 20 sites available.

In these states, you can place a bet in person with a sportabook.

Best States for Land-Based Sports Betting

There’s no better place to be on a Super Bowl weekend than in Las Vegas, Nevada.

That’s because every sportsbook has a party atmosphere. And since so many of them exist, Nevada is the top state for hitting the windows.

States With Illegal Charitable Gambling

At least one form of charitable gambling is legal in 48 of 50 US states in the forms of Bingo halls, raffles, charitable lotteries, and more.

It’s not allowed only in the following states.

Best States for Charitable Gambling

Casino gambling can be charitable gambling in some states. Charities profit from casino gaming through sponsorships in at least two states – New Hampshire and North Dakota.

But the classic charitable game is bingo, and Texas has the most bingo halls in the nation.

States Where Lottery Is Illegal

As with all the previous forms of gambling we have seen, each state determines the laws concerning the lottery.

45 states out of 50 have a lottery. Here are the five states that don’t allow it and the reason behind it.

Best US State Lotteries

Playing the lottery is all about hitting big jackpots, so you don’t want to be hit with an added state tax if you win.

That narrows our list to 10 states that don’t charge a tax on lottery winnings. Among those, our choice is Delaware, which carries all the big drawings and more.

The lottery runs much of the wagering in the state, so their website has sports betting games and casino info in addition to keno and draw games.

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What About Gambling Taxes?

Gambling is different in every state. From gambling types, to access, to taxes that might be added, it all changes when you cross state lines.

Also, keep in mind that anywhere you are, if you win big, the federal government will take its share.

For instance, if you are in a Las Vegas casino and win $5,000 or more, the casino must take 24% of that as a standard withholding amount.

Keep records of your losses, though. You may be able to deduct those in your home state.

Gambling Types Explained

Here is a brief overview of the most common types of gambling you can find available throughout the United States.

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Commercial Casinos

These are Las Vegas-type casinos, privately owned and regulated by states and localities.

They usually offer typical casino games like slots and table games and often have poker rooms and sportsbook sections.

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Tribal Casinos

Native American tribes own and operate casinos in most gambling states. They are regulated under provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.

Under the Act, tribes negotiate and enter compacts with states to determine the types of gaming offered.

So, some locations provide Vegas-type games, poker, and sports betting, while others are restricted to games like video gaming machines and bingo.

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In-State Gambling Sites

In recent years, a few states have allowed online casinos to be set up inside their borders.

These casinos are licensed and regulated by the state and usually offer limited number of games.

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Offshore Gambling Sites

Online casinos based offshore that serve US customers over the internet.

They are licensed and regulated in foreign jurisdictions, and their operating requirements vary.

The sites offer a wider variety of casino games than land-based casinos or state-based online sites.

Foreign entities also license offshore sportsbooks. Many of them include racebooks for horse betting.

They offer odds on most sports and usually offer more betting options than state-based sites.

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State Lottery

Most states have regulated lotteries that offer numbers draws, keno, scratch cards, and other games.

Typical games involve the player choosing three, four, five, or more numbers and attempting to match those drawn at a designated time.

Multi-state draws, such as Mega-Millions and Powerball, may offer prizes in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Charitable Gambling

The most common form of gambling in the US, charitable gaming, is legal in almost every state.

Each state or locality licenses and regulates games in which profits must go to an eligible charity.

Bingo is the most popular charitable game, but a it can also offer a raffle, pull-tab game, poker tournament, or casino games.

US Online Gambling Laws

The Interstate Wire Act and the UIGEA are the two main pieces of legislation that apply to online gambling in the United States.

These bills set a precedent, but their validity and effectiveness have eroded as legal online gambling spreads at the state level.

Another piece of legislation, PASPA, was deemed unconstitutional in 2018 and subsequently opened the floodgates for regulated sportsbooks nationwide.

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The Interstate Wire Act

This law makes bets “using a wire communication facility illegal.” Until recently, the Department of Justice interpreted that to include all online wagers.

A 2019 court ruling limited the federal government’s use of the Wire Act to sports bets.

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PASPA

PASPA was passed in 1992 and made sports betting illegal in any state that did not already allow sports betting.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled PASPA was unconstitutional, allowing new states to legalize and regulate sports betting.

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UIGEA

UIGEA was the main law used to topple the first wave of online poker sites on Black Friday in 2011.

Now, states are bypassing the federal rules by authorizing online gambling within their own borders.

US Gambling History

While gambling has occurred in the US since the first settlements in the 17th Century, later developments have shaped the face of wagering today.

YearEvent
1946The Flamingo Hotel and Casino is built in Las Vegas. It is the first modern-day casino in the city.
1961Congress passes the Federal Wire Act seeking to keep organized crime from communicating gambling information.
1964New Hampshire adopts a lottery, the first legal in the nation.
1988The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act becomes law, allowing Native American tribes to open their own gambling establishments.
2018The Supreme Court overturns the law that banned states from authorizing sports betting.

It prompts the expansion of legal sports gambling.

The Future of Online Gambling in the US

Without defining federal laws to regulate gambling, it is left to each state to determine whether or not to make wagering legal.

The result is a mixed and sometimes confusing diversity of gambling laws across the US.

The vast growth of legal gambling in the US leads to the question of when it may reach a saturation point. Politics and the economy will determine that.

But as legal gambling states calculate the revenue from online and land-based wagering, the prospects for further expansion look good.

Expect online betting services to grow for at least another decade.

USA Online Gambling FAQs

Here are some common questions about gambling in the US.