Answering the question “is online gambling legal?” is not straightforward. While certain forms of online gambling may be restricted or prohibited by some states, others remain legal. Complicating matters further are federal regulations and anti-gambling attitudes held by some lawmakers; nevertheless state legislators are gradually warming up to legal online and sports betting regulation.
Regulated online gambling first made its debut in the 1990s when people first realized they could place wagers from home via the World Wide Web. At first, this technology seemed like an easy way around casino prohibitions and government oversight by simply registering their site with an offshore jurisdiction and accepting bets – however this awareness also contributed to new legislation being created to regulate and oversee this sector of the industry.
Since that time, several states have implemented regulations for online gambling in several forms and continue to do so. Furthermore, service providers and website owners who violated online gambling prohibitions – including payment processors, advertising networks, and software developers – have been prosecuted. Due to such issues many people now hesitate before gambling online.
U.S. states with gambling regulation vary greatly, from Hawaii and Utah being exceptions, with 47 having casinos or lotteries, while 42 states having some form of regulated online gambling – either operated by established casino companies, independent operators, or both; either way these sites must abide by stringent regulatory standards.
Regulated New York online gambling websites must abide by stringent responsible gambling guidelines, linking to resources like Gamblers Anonymous, the New York Problem Gambling Resource Center, and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services as well as providing information and educational materials for both gamblers themselves and their family members.
Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware were some of the early states to legalize online gambling; Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia followed shortly afterwards. New York also introduced legal sports betting but its bill to legalize regulated online casinos failed earlier this year.
Though several other states have legalized online poker and slots gambling, most still prohibit real money gambling on most other types of games. New York, for example, will likely only permit real money gambling on popular slots and poker formats when it launches online casino gaming in 2022. Washington legalized sports betting at tribal casinos in March of 2020 but has yet to approve iGaming and daily fantasy sports activities; its Justice Department claims any promotion of these activities violates the Wire Act, contradicting an Appeals Court ruling which struck down this law.