The United States now permits intrastate online gambling, i.e., gambling contained by the borders of one state. Gambling that includes wagers that cross state lines, with the exception of fantasy sports and horse racing, remains illegal.
Online gaming in the U.S. wasn't as profitable as its proponents projected in 2014, but it did provide an infusion of cash into state coffers and showed some growth potential for the future.
In 2014, three states licensed, regulated, and permitted intrastate online gaming: Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.
New Jersey – the most populous of the three states, with close to 9 million residents in 2014 – allowed Atlantic City casinos to launch real-money online gaming on November 16, 2013.
Online casinos in New Jersey must have their servers located in an Atlantic City casino and are permitted to offer any game played in the casino.
Like New Jersey, Delaware offers the full suite of casino games online. It began offering games on October 31, 2013, but has struggled to generate much revenue because of its small population. To compensate, it signed an agreement to pool liquidity for online poker with Nevada. The agreement was implemented in 2015, and Nevada and Delaware poker players are now playing against each other online.
The only online gaming activity Nevada regulates is online poker. Other forms of online gaming – with the exception of betting on horse races – remain illegal in Nevada.
One online gaming company, Ultimate Gaming, closed in 2014. Ultimate Gaming was the first company to launch an online poker room in Nevada (Ultimate Poker), in April 2013. It also operated both an online poker room and online casino in New Jersey.
The road to permitting intrastate online gambling has been a long and winding one. The chief obstacle to intrastate online gambling has been the Department of Justice's (DOJ) interpretation of the Wire Act.
The Wire Act was enacted in 1961 to prevent bookmakers from accepting sports bets over the telephone. For years, the DOJ maintained the Wire Act prohibited all forms of Internet gambling, while online gaming proponents maintained the Wire Act only applied to sports betting.
The DOJ's position prevented the domestic growth of online gaming in the U.S., although jurisdictions outside the U.S. offered real-money play to American residents.
In 2011, the DOJ reversed its long-held position that all forms of online gambling were illegal because they violated the Wire Act. In a letter released on December 23, 2011, the DOJ said the law applied only to sports betting, and intrastate gaming outside of sports betting did not violate the law. Gambling across state borders, say between poker players in California and Nevada, remained illegal according to the DOJ.
The ruling cleared the way for states to regulate and license intrastate online gaming. Nevada began issuing licenses to operators and software providers in 2012.
Nevada also adopted legislation in 2013 that allows it to sign compacts with other states to build player liquidity. Essentially, if Nevada signs a compact with a state, players on Nevada online poker networks will have access to players on poker networks in the other state and vice versa.
Delaware and New Jersey quickly joined Nevada in passing online gaming legislation. In June 2012, Delaware authorized online gambling in response to expanded brick-and-mortar casino gambling in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In February 2013, New Jersey signed into law online gambling legislation in an effort to help Atlantic City casinos. Unlike Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are licensing and regulating the full suite of casino games, including table games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps.
Historically, gambling regulation in the U.S. has been reserved for the state governments. However, sometimes federal law supersedes state law. The Department of Justice (DOJ) had, prior to 2011, held that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of online gambling in all the U.S. states, and that view colored past prosecutions of online gaming cases. (Federal gambling law does not address games of skill or state lotteries that wish to offer subscription services on the Internet.)
Accusations of Wire Act violations are usually accompanied by other charges, including conspiracy; money laundering; and violations of the RICO Act, Travel Act and Illegal Gambling Business Act. Enforcement of the Wire Act is directed at the gambling operators; there is no language that makes it illegal for a consumer to place a wager.
Because the Act was written in 1961, its language is limited to communication systems that use "wires," and the types of betting it describes are limited to fixed-odds propositions, such as are offered on sporting and other events. It simply was not possible to have foreseen remote casino and poker games over 50 years ago, so taken literally, the language of the Wire Act is not adequate to apply to casino gaming and poker over the Internet. In a case involving online gamblers who tried to get their credit card debts ruled unenforceable because their online casino gambling had been illegal, the Louisiana Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit declared in 2002 that the gambling losses were indeed enforceable because "the Wire Act does not prohibit non-sports Internet gambling."
The DOJ disagreed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, and for years the Wire Act served as the foundation for all of the DOJ's arguments against the legality of Internet gambling for both sports wagering and non-sports wagering. DOJ officials asserted this belief several times before Congress since 2002. The DOJ also asserted this belief when advising the U.S. Virgin Islands and the states of Nevada and North Dakota against regulating online gaming. They also threatened and settled with media companies that advertised for online gambling companies.
The DOJ was successful in convicting Jay Cohen, president of World Sports Exchange, for Wire Act violations in 2000.
Internet gambling on horse racing is permitted by the Interstate Horse Racing Act in states that have chosen to regulate such wagering. Although the DOJ insists that the Act is not consistent with the Wire Act, it has never filed charges against any of the many domestic remote horse race wagering operators.
In fall 2006, the United States enacted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which makes it illegal for financial institutions to facilitate payment transactions between offshore gambling operations and American customers. The law says nothing about it being illegal for a person located in the U.S. to gamble on an Internet site.
The UIGEA resulted in the online gambling industry's publicly listed companies withdrawing from the American market, while many private companies continue to serve it.
UIGEA regulations require financial firms that participate in designated payment systems to implement policies and procedures designed to halt payments being made to gambling businesses in connection with unlawful Internet gambling.
Certain participants in designated payment systems are exempt from the rule because the government questions the practicality of these participants attempting to identify and block unlawful Internet gambling transactions. For example, participants in automated clearing house (ACH), check collection and wire transfer systems would be exempt, barring a beneficiary's bank or a bank that is directly involved with an illegal gambling business. The rule also outlines the types of policies and procedures that nonexempt participants in designated payment systems may adopt to prevent transactions restricted by the UIGEA.
The UIGEA regulations were approved on January 19, 2009. Financial institutions had to begin complying with the regulations by December 1, 2009.
The states of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Louisiana have all passed legislation that specifically prohibits unauthorized forms of Internet gambling. All forms of gambling are illegal in Hawaii and Utah.
In April 2008, federal regulators and representatives of the financial services community testified before Congress that any attempts to enforce the UIGEA would result in serious regulatory burdens. A result of the testimony was new legislation introduced by Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul, proponents of legalizing and regulating online gaming, which would prohibit the Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve System from implementing any regulations related to the UIGEA. The proposed bill did not pass.
In October 2008, the state of Kentucky was granted permission by Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate to begin the seizure of gambling websites. In January 2009, the Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned the ruling in a 2-1 decision, citing that domain names are not gambling devices under Kentucky law. The Kentucky Supreme Court reversed the appellate court's decision, saying the online gaming interests arguing the case lacked standing.
The Kentucky case is still ongoing, although a few online gaming companies have settled with the state. bwin.party settled its case with Kentucky for $15 million.
In April 2011, the DOJ indicted the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker/UB. The charges, most of which have been settled, resulted in the forfeiture of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and assets, the sale of Full Tilt to PokerStars, the closing of Absolute/UB, and the withdrawal of PokerStars and Full Tilt from the U.S. market. In addition to shutting down the U.S. operations of the most popular online poker sites, the DOJ indictments convinced many operators to shut down their U.S.-facing operations, leaving American online gamblers with a limited marketplace.
That marketplace is now being filled, in a limited way, by the state-by-state expansion of online gaming.
In September 2015, New Jersey regulators approved a partnership between Amaya Gaming, parent company of PokerStars, and land-based casino Resorts Atlantic City. The approval cleared the way for PokerStars to re-enter the U.S. online poker market for the first time since April 2011. PokerStars launched in New Jersey in March 2016.
In early 2015, billionaire Republican power broker and Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson began a push for Congress to ban all forms of online gambling. In February 2015, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R - Utah) introduced a bill called the Restoration of America's Wire Act in the House Judiciary Committee. In June 2015, RAWA was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R – Florida).
In June 2015, Rep. Joe Barton (R–Texas) introduced his third attempt to advance federal online poker legislation since 2011 when he introduced the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015.
In October 2015, in response to an "insider information" scandal that brought attention to the burgeoning real-money daily fantasy sports industry, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association created a new control board to oversee the U.S. market in an attempt to avoid government regulation.
The 1 United States site supports English. with United States Dollars. edit your preferences
Poker Players Alliance
705 8th Street Southeast
Washington, District of Columbia
United States 20003-2985
View All Gaming Jurisdictions
United States Jurisdiction News
Excitement – and change – is in the air at the 2016 WSOP
As the 2016 World Series of Poker kick off this week, a number of tweaks and adjustments have been announced with the goal of improving the overall experience and attracting new players.
Trump Taj Mahal reopens poker room; introduces 250 new slots
Trump Taj Mahal brings live poker back to Atlantic City this weekend and also launches the $1,000,000 Winning Ticket game, open to all Trump One members.
One-on-one with Wynn Las Vegas Director of Poker Ryan Beauregard
With the new Wynn Las Vegas poker room set to debut May 26, Casino City's Gary Trask sits down with Director of Poker Operations Ryan Beauregard to discuss why he thinks the new venue is "most luxurious" on the Strip and beyond.
48 hours of March Madness, Las Vegas style
Casino City's Gary Trask details his "bucket list" trip to Las Vegas last week when he spent two full days in the middle of the "madness" that is annually triggered by the first two days of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
March Madness parties take center stage in Las Vegas
With the popularity of sports betting on a steady rise, Las Vegas will host numerous viewing parties next week when March Madness kicks into high gear and millions of college basketball fans flock to the city.
Top 10 reasons Las Vegas should have a professional sports franchise
Sports fans who live in Las Vegas have been dying to have a professional sports franchise come to "Sin City," something that may soon become possible thanks to the construction of T-Mobile Arena.
Las Vegas Casino Openings & Expansions: The Cosmopolitan unveils sports bettor's paradise steps off the Strip
A new state-of-the-art sportsbook at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas has brought unrivaled energy to the casino. Elsewhere, Wynn Las Vegas is moving its poker room and adding various player-friendly amenities while Golden Nugget Las Vegas unveiled $800,000 in upgrades at its spa and salon.
Americans to bet $4.2 billion on Super Bowl 50
Americans will bet $4.2 billion on Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, up eight percent over last year.
U.S. Powerball prize rises to $1.4 billion
Jackpot soars to a record $1.4 billion after no winner in Saturday's draw.
Inside Gaming: Wire Act hearing a disaster for online gambling opponents
The recent congressional hearing into legislation that would ban online gaming couldn't have gone worse for backers of the bill even if they attempted to sabotage the three-hour meeting themselves.
Inside Gaming: GOP presidential candidates don't share Adelson's stance on online gambling
Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson wants to ban online gambling at the federal level, but the major Republican candidates for president don't share the same view.
Top 10 college football bowl game betting questions and answers
Beginning Saturday, a record 40 college football bowl games kicks off, climaxing with the National Championship Game on Jan. 11. With the help of three veteran Las Vegas bookmakers, Casino City's Gary Trask asks and answers 10 burning questions for those who will be wagering on the games.
Lipparelli goes to bat for online gambling during RAWA hearing
Nevada State Sen. Mark Lipparelli told lawmakers of the successes chalked up by the Silver State and two others with legal Internet gaming.
RAWA hearing a disaster for Chaffetz, online gambling ban supporters
The only supporters of the online gambling prohibition appeared to be House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and two of his invited witnesses.
Inside Gaming: Nevada AG describes 'nuances' in his position on RAWA
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt didn't back away from adding his name to a letter circulated by an attorneys general group offering support for federal efforts to restore the Interstate Wire Act back to its pre-2011 interpretation.
Sports bettors savor upgrades at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook
Casino City spends a Saturday afternoon inside the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino SuperBook and explains why the $13 million in recent improvements -- including a mammoth video wall, new bar and private VIP cabanas -- make it a "must visit" for race and sport bettors.
Nevada Attorney General says he'd support online gambling ban
Adam Laxalt said he plans to sign a letter supporting a bill backed by billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson that would ban Internet gaming nationwide and end the state's online poker business.
Poker pros and media make predictions for WSOP Main Event Final Table
Casino City asked a collection of poker players and media personalities, including three Main Event champions, who will win the World Series of Poker Main Event. While it's not surprising the consensus pick is chip leader Joe McKeehen, many of our experts are calling for an upset, offering interesting insights on how it will all unfold once the cards are in the air.
Harman, Juanda named to Poker Hall of Fame
The 2015 Poker Hall of Fame Class has its newest members as Jennifer Harman and John Juanda become the 49th and 50th individuals to be inducted. The induction ceremony takes place on Friday, Nov. 6 at Binion’s Gambling Hall in Las Vegas.
2015 WSOP Main Event November Nine Profile: Tom Cannuli
Tom Cannuli is the youngest player remaining in the World Series of Poker Main Event, but the 23-year-old New Jersey native is long on experience, motivation and positive energy, which he feels will pay dividends at the final table in November.
ESPN WSOP Main Event Recap: Episodes IX and X
ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker Main Event survived the obnoxious antics of Jason Schwartz on Sunday night, thanks to compelling performances from Lon McEachern, Norman Chad, Tom Cannuli and Kelly Minkin.
Previewing IGT's new TV-themed slot machines
Slot machine-designer International Game Technology unveiled new games in Las Vegas last week with popular TV-show themes like TMZ Live, Orange is the New Black and Wheel of Fortune.
2015 WSOP Main Event November Nine Profile: Neil Blumenfield
Laid off from his job days before the start of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event, Neil Blumenfield's run to the final table of came at a fortuitous time. Now, the 61-year-old is hoping to make history in November as the prestigious event's oldest bracelet winner.
'Deflategate' verdict sends shockwaves through sportsbooks worldwide
Thursday morning's announcement that Tom Brady would not be suspended for the start of the NFL season forced bookmakers to quickly adjust their odds, creating significant liability for some betting shops.
This Week in Gambling: Hypocrisy reaches a new low
This Week in Gambling, Sheldon Adelson's hypocrisy regarding online gaming hits new depths. Also, gaming news from California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
Proponents of online gambling ban serve "demon rum" at House hearing
Two simple words uttered by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.) perfectly summed up the farcical testimony offered by proponents of federal legislation to ban online gaming in front the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations on Wednesday.