US Online Casinos
Over the last century there have been many legal wrangles within the US over gambling – with the prohibition era laws still the basis of the statutes in many states. Many US online casino fans incorrectly believe that current Federal law makes online gambling illegal. This is not the case. The law in question (called the UIGEA) makes it illegal for banks and financial institutions to transact with gambling sites – and does not cover individual players at all. In fact, there are many long running and trusted casino brands offering casino games to American players from their legal offshore locations.
This page covers several aspects of online casinos accepting US players. First up, the laws and regulations surrounding real money gambling in the US are covered – at both the Federal and State level. Next you’ll find information on the legally operating offshore casinos. Below this you will find information covering making casino deposits from the US – and how to ensure that you are playing at a trusted and legitimate casino.
USA Online Casino Gambling Regulations
When online gambling first became popular in the mid 1990’s there was little regulation surrounding online play and USA casino fans had a wide range of options. This would all change very quickly in 2006 when the ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’ came into force. This act would prohibit transactions from financial institutions to gambling sites, making it much more difficult for US gamblers to fund their accounts. Many people assumed that this was the end of online gambling in the United States. The big publicly listed sites pulled out of the US soon afterward. What happened was that a new generation of privately owned casinos took over instead.
Move forward a decade and things are not quite so bleak. First, select states have their own online casino sites. In Delaware or New Jersey, you’ll be able to play at state licensed online casinos. There are debates in several other states concerning online gambling (including Poker), though no new regulations have been passed in recent years.
While some States including Utah, Hawaii, Maryland and Washington State actively prohibit online gambling – residents of the majority of states are not under any legal restrictions. This has led to a casino industry maturing offshore. There are some big and long running brands located in places like Antigua, Panama or the Netherlands Antilles. These casinos are licensed by their home country (or by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission inside Canadian territory) and vigorously defend their right to offer real money casino games to US residents.
The US authorities have no legal jurisdiction over these casinos – though they do actively try to prevent deposits.
Real Money Deposits in USA Online Casinos
Making a deposit to a site located within one of the 3 regulated states is very straightforward, credit card deposits are the easiest option.
When it comes to the legal offshore USA casinos, you will need to make international purchases with your credit card to get money though. These deposits often get through first time, with the casinos playing a cat-and-mouse type game with the payment processors to ensure that the transactions are processed.
If your credit card fails, there are plenty of alternative casino deposit options out there. These include Bitcoin (fast becoming a mainstream choice), prepaid credit card brands or money transfers. United States casino withdrawals are reliable (though slow), with a paper check the main option.
Other Online Gambling Formats
You’ll find a wide range of other gambling options, both at the state-sponsored sites or offshore. Sports betting is big news, especially when it comes to sports such as football and basketball, while many offshore sites also host race books, covering a large number of horse racing tracks across the US. While sports betting is illegal in most states, the offshore books operate in jurisdictions where there are no legal reasons preventing them from accepting bets from anywhere in the world.
Daily Fantasy Sports are also very popular, where players will pick a squad of players from the NFL/MLB/NBA or the NHL and compete for points against other players. Online poker is another popular game for US based players. Finally, while state lottery tickets can also be purchased online.
Choosing the Right Online Casino in the United States
While there are several long standing and trusted brands offshore – relaxed oversight by some licensing authorities mean that it is important that US players do some background checks before signing up. A license is the first check – depositing at a casino without a license is never advised. Look out for licenses from Costa Rica, Panama, Netherlands Antilles, Antigua or the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. You should also check for external testing of game fairness. This can usually be found on the casino’s homepage, and should include a link to a respected 3rd party. I also like to see full contact information (including phone numbers and addresses, not just online details), plus a range of the available deposit methods. As a final check, you should make sure there are no major payment issues.
Players who live in the states which offer their own regulated online casinos have a much easier choice – though this is naturally limited to the few casinos holding licenses.