Legality of online gambling can be an intricate subject. Although individual states have laws in place to regulate it, federal law prohibits interstate gambling; thus many sites operate from offshore locations. Recently though, Americans have become more accepting of regulated gaming due to sports betting becoming an increasingly popular activity as well as greater acceptance for other forms of regulated online gaming such as real money casino games and digital slot machines.
Although the internet has made finding real-money gambling websites easier than ever, centuries of anti-gambling sentiment remain entrenched in American culture, making approval of new forms of gambling difficult for lawmakers. Yet serious operators can take advantage of public desire for gaming related entertainment via this medium.
Many state-level online gambling initiatives are underway to increase availability of regulated gaming options, yet getting federal legislators on board with regulations of sports wagering has proven much harder. Current federal statutes that make online gambling illegal are out-of-date and no longer reflect changes in the online economy. Federal laws not only prohibit online gambling promotions, but some also criminalize activity that would be considered unlawful under state gambling regulations. Service providers such as payment processors, hosting services, and software developers have been charged with violating these prohibitions on gambling online.
At the start of 2023, 19 states and DC had legalized sports betting – an incredible increase over the ten states that had legalized it before PASPA was overturned by the Supreme Court. New Jersey led this change with their success regulating online sports betting – something other states soon followed suit in legalizing it too.
Ohio legalized sports betting at various casinos and race tracks in 2021; however, online casino bets won’t become available until Jan 1, 2023 due to Ohio’s conservative approach to gambling. This may explain the delay.
North Dakota, which currently only boasts three tribal casinos and is surrounded by more liberal states that have already legalized sports betting, is unlikely to legalize retail online sports betting anytime soon. North Dakota continues its efforts at amending its gambling laws through legislative efforts that may alter them in the near future.
The United States has been slow to accept regulated gambling, but change is happening fast. New Jersey led the charge early 2010s when their legal challenge against PASPA initiated rapid sports betting expansion nationwide. Now Pennsylvania and several other states may soon follow suit by legalizing online casino gaming; Virginia and Colorado already offer sports betting online.