There is no U.S. federal law against Gaming online
There is no U.S. national law against gaming online. At the national level, gambling online is perfectly legal, due to the absence of a law against it. It is likely to run afoul of state legislation (notably in extremely conservative states), but even there prosecution is extremely uncommon, and penalties are usually slight.
U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway admitted in a House hearing that just placing wagers online does not 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 wouldn’t be running his site for nineteen decades, as an American citizen, residing in the U.S., using my real name. And I occasionally gamble on the internet, too, and I admit that openly, like I’m doing at this time.
This may be confusing because other outlets erroneously reported that Congress prohibited online gaming in 2006. Those reports are just wrong. The 2006 law makes it illegal for banks to move gambling money when the stakes are already prohibited (like from a country law), but does not make it illegal for players to make bets. The law simply does not create or expand any ban on gaming itself. In reality, the legislation says quite clearly,”No provision of this subchapter shall be construed as altering, limiting, or expanding any Federal or State law or Tribal-State compact banning, allowing, or regulating gaming within the USA.” You can see for yourself by checking out the full text of this law.
While you do not break any federal laws from placing bets online, it’s not legal to conduct a gaming operation (i.e., to accept bets), but in those few countries where it is explicitly legal and the operator is accredited. So don’t believe you can start an online casino or operate Facebook raffles.
And yes, the FBI published a frightening warning online in which they claimed that putting bets online is against the law. In summary, they lied, and the DoJ finally reversed that place anyway. (more on that)
States where online gambling is explicitly legal
Not many countries have specific laws against online gaming, though many have laws against gaming in general, which apply equally to online and offline gambling. A small handful of states have legalized online gaming, as long as you perform one of the handful of approved online casinos. In some countries, only certain types of gaming might be legal (e.g., poker). The countries That Have legalized some Kind of online gambling are:
Delaware became the first state to legalize online gaming, in June 2012, and the next to start (Nov. 26, 2013). (USA Today, Delaware Online, Casino.org)
Nevada became the first nation to legalize online gaming (nicely, poker ), on Feb. 21, 2013 (CBS) and launching on April 30. (LVRJ)
New Jersey became the third country to legalize online gambling (poker casino), signed into law in February 2013, and launch on Nov. 25th. (NJ Poker Online)
Note that Bovada won’t accept players from these states, nor will they accept players from 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 lively. (NY Times)
State violations of gaming are usually misdemeanors
Even when countries do not permit players to gamble, the penalties are almost always light. The only states where simple gambling is a felony are the two Washingtons: Washington, DC, and Washington state. (source) In many nations simple gaming is just a misdemeanor, and in Arkansas and Colorado it is a straightforward petty crime, like a traffic ticket. (source)
States with an online gaming prohibition
Even countries that ban gambling generally usually do not have a specific 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. But a few countries do specifically outlaw online gaming. Those countries are:
Nevada (go figure)
Source: Gambling Law U.S.
Players convicted of violating State legislation I know of two cases in which a player ran afoul of state laws (in extremely conservative nations ), both of whom were billed under their state’s overall anti-gambling laws, no special anti-online-gambling law:
North Dakota. Jeffrey Trauman paid a $500 fine on which was likely over $100,000 in online sports wager winnings, in 2003. (Gambling & the Law)
Oklahoma. Online sports bettor Roland Benavides was charged in 2011 and in 2012 received a deferred sentence (which means that if he does not violate the terms of his probation, he will likely face no jail time). (News OK)
Kentucky seized domain names A Kentucky judge consented to allow Kentucky seize 141 gambling-related domains, on the spurious grounds that a domain name constituted a”gambling device” under state law. But even if it were clear that gambling domains broken Kentucky law, the seizure was still absurd, due to that logic any nation could seize any domain anywhere in the world if the website happened to violate its regional law. In any event, as FlushDraw stated,”Just a few of US-based registrars complied, and the seizures themselves were left somewhat moot when most of the affected domains jumped to non-US registrar services and ceased using”.com” domains”
The Kentucky Court of Appeals promptly chased the seizure action, but then the State appealed. I could not find any updates involving 2014-2018 (EFF 2008, KY appealed in 2009, 2014 ruling)
Taking bets is prohibited It has always been against national law to take sports bets over the Web (to not create them). In other words, you can’t set up a site and accept sports bets from the public. The law which prohibits this is called the Wire Act. For many years the feds stated that the Wire Act applied to taking casino and poker bets too. In 2011 they reversed themselves and said the Wire Act applied only to athletics. (Forbes) Subsequently in 2019 they reversed themselves and returned to the former position that the Wire Act indeed applies to taking poker and casino bets too. (source) Though again, placing bets stays perfectly legal under federal law. The challenge is finding a reputable place to playwith. Due to the legal problems, there aren’t many operators operating the whole U.S., and several of those which are kind of questionable. That’s why I advertise only Bovada on this website, since they’re the best one for U.S. players.
States can currently offer sports gambling In May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a law which prohibited sports gambling in all countries but Nevada. This permits individual states to legalize sports gambling should they opt to do so. On the other hand, the court’s ruling does not talk to the Wire Act, so online sportsbooks still violate federal law (for the operator, not the player). (Forbes)