I’m in the United States, can I play real-money casino games online?

November 30, 2015 | Legal , US | By admin | 0 Comments

Yes you can. But many online casinos that accept non-US players block players from the United States since they don’t want to risk getting into trouble with U.S. authorities.

The legal situation for online gambling within the United States is complex and unclear – to say the least.

There is no federal law that prohibits a person from gambling online from within the United States. This was clarified by U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway in a 2007 House hearing.

lawIndividual U.S. states have the right to enact their own gambling laws. This means that the legality of your online gambling will very from state to state. In the early 2010s, the state of Delaware expressively legalized and regulated online gambling. Soon, the state of Nevada legalized and regulated online real-money poker and the state of New Jersey legalized and regulated real-money poker and real-money casino.

Other U.S. states have taken a completely different stance when it comes to online gambling. One of the strictest states is North Dakota, where you as an individual can actually be punished for gambling online. However, so far, court cases going after online gamblers in North Dakota have been few. In 2003, a North Dakota sports bettor was fined $500.

Another example of a U.S. state where a sports bettor has been punished for betting online is Oklahoma. Oklahoma does not have a special law that prohibits online gambling, but gambling online can be seen as a violation of their general anti-gambling law.

An example of a U.S. state that specifically prohibits online casinos is Louisiana.

Article 14, Section 90.3 of the Louisiana State Code defines online gambling as

[…] the intentional conducting, or directly assisting in the conducting as a business of any game, contest, lottery, or contrivance whereby a person risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit when accessing the Internet, World Wide Web, or any part thereof by way of any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, or any server.”

Another notable example is Washington State, where playing real-money poker online can render you up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Accepting wagers online

Even though there is no federal law against a person in the United States placing wagers in online casinos, there are federal laws that can make the act of accepting those wagers illegal.

Why is this a concern for you as a gambler? Because if you have money deposited with an online casino and that online casino gets into trouble with U.S. authorities, you might find it impossible to access you account and withdraw your money because they have been frozen by U.S. authorities pending a lengthy investigation.

Accepting sports bets online is a clear violation of U.S. federal law. The legal situation for other bets, including casino bets, is more unclear. The U.S. Department of Justice used to claim that the Wire Act pertained to sports betting, casino games and poker online, but in 2011 they acknowledged that their interpretation of the Wire Act had been wrong. However, since the Wire Act is not the only U.S. federal or state law that could possibly be interpreted as a ban against accepting online casino wagers, the legal situation remains unclear.

Payment processing

U.S. federal law makes it illegal for payment processors to process certain online gambling transactions. This means that even if it is legal for you as a person to do a transaction, it can be illegal for a payment processor to actually transfer your money to your casino account.

Since the U.S. authorities have found it difficult to successful go after online casino operators, they are now focusing a lot of effort on going after payment processors instead.