Online Gambling in the USA

Wondering if online gambling is legal in your state? Looking for the best online gambling sites in the USA? TechNightOwl is here to help. We keep track of the ever-evolving legal status of online gambling across the nation, so you don’t have to! 

Our expert team also researches and explores all the current legal online casinos, compiling their findings here in easy-to-follow gambling site reviews. You can trust in us to provide everything you need to know about online gambling in the United States. 

TechNightOwl—Your Resource for Safe, Legal Online Gambling and Sports Betting Sites

At TechNightOwl, gambling is our passion. From simple online slots to poker, we’re experts in games of all types—and let’s not forget sportsbooks. There’s nothing quite like not just watching your favorite sports team, but also winning real money in the process!

Our team goes above and beyond to vet every gambling site we cover here. We make sure that each one is safe, legal, and not setting an unfair house advantage. Even better, we try the sites we review to ensure we can share the information you really want to know, from legal considerations to site functions. By doing your online casino and betting site research on TechNightOwl, you’re not taking a gamble!

Is Online Gambling for Real Money Legal in the USA?

Yes and no—online gambling for real money is legal in the USA on a federal level, but at a state level, that’s not always the case. Each state has its own regulations regarding which games and forms of gambling are legal, if any. State laws also don’t prevent you from using international sites, so long as they are not on US soil.

The good news is that while online gambling was entirely illegal in America up until 2012, in just eight short years, that’s changed dramatically. Twenty-two states now have some form of legal online gambling.

As of June 2020, five states are fully legal, so to speak, and allow online casinos, poker, and sports betting:

  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania 
  • West Virginia
  • Michigan

Nevada allows both poker and sports betting, but not casinos.

Sixteen additional states allow sports betting only:

  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Arkansas
  • New Mexico
  • Mississippi
  • Washington
  • North Carolina

Exceptions to the Rules—Fantasy Sports and Online Lotteries

Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports are handled a bit differently than gambling and sports betting because they are excluded from some legislation. Unfortunately, that makes their legality even more confusing. 

Most daily fantasy sports (DFS) providers, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, legally operate in 43 states. DFS is illegal in Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Washington, and Hawaii, which may soon change. Some providers also ban additional states. For example, Yahoo! Daily Fantasy Sports also does not operate in Delaware, Florida, Missouri, and Montana.

Online Lottery

Most US states offer some form of lottery, which is gambling of a sort. However, only a few give you the opportunity to play online, including Illinois, Georgia, Minnesota, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. 

How to Tell if a Gambling Site is Legal in the US

On top of the ever-changing state-to-state legality of gambling in the United States, certain gambling sites also have restrictions. Most sites will have geo-based tracking and will let you know if they detect your location as an area they can’t service, but that doesn’t always happen.

There are two ways you can find out if a gambling site you’re considering is legal in the US, or more accurately your state, the first is to look them up right here on TechNightOwl. We cover all the best online gambling sites in the USA. 

If, by chance, the site isn’t here, you can also scroll down to the bottom of the site and look for a regulatory body logo. If you don’t see one at all, it’s likely either not a legitimate site or one that’s not legal in the United States.

Is Gambling Online Safe?

Legal online gambling sites are safe. They are regulated by the same entities as brick-and-mortar casinos and betting establishments and must meet all the same safety protocols and ethics codes. Those regulations ensure that all the games are fair, your money is secure, and that you actually are paid when you win. 

However, as an illegal gambling site has no reason to follow those regulations—otherwise, they’d be legal—it is vital to ensure that you’re playing on a safe, legal site. That’s why we started TechNightOwl. Scam and unregulated gambling sites give the entire industry a bad name, and worse, they hurt people. We do everything we can to make sure that online gamblers like you have all the information they need to avoid those sites.

Gamble Responsibly

On the note of safety, when gambling online, you aren’t physically looking at the money you spend—or lose—it can be easy to spend more than intended. Many players get caught up in the moment, and betting is fast online.

Always gamble responsibly, and keep in mind that you are still gambling with real money. Know when to cut your losses or walk with your winnings and be aware of gambling addiction symptoms. Gambling can be fun and even very lucrative. At TechNightOwl, we’d like it to stay that way for you. 

Types of Legal Gambling in the US

Remember that not all the options listed here are legal in all 50 states unless you opt for a website outside the US.

Casino Games

You can play a range of casino games in the US, including card games like Baccarat and Blackjack, as well as slots and table games like Roulette. 

US gambling sites also offer live casino games such as Live Roulette and Live Blackjack. With these games, you play in a real-life casino via a video stream. You can place bets remotely using your phone or computer. 

The best online gambling sites use modern, high-tech software to deliver your favorite games and ensure you have the best experience gambling online. While you can try most online games for free to make sure they meet your needs, free games generally don’t allow you to win real money.

Poker

If you’re wondering why states break legal gambling into three classifications—casino, poker, and sports betting—when poker is offered at casinos, it’s because the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 excluded “skill games.” This point also applies to Fantasy Sports, that’s how they scored an exception and became legal in 43 states.

Many poker fans assert that poker is indeed a game of skill—including the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), which has fought hard to legalize real money online poker sites. However, the US Department of Justice flip flops a bit over whether they consider it a game of skill or chance, as it involves both. That’s why poker is not legal in as many states as Fantasy Sports but isn’t lumped in with casino games either. It gets its own gambling “category” legally.

That said, in states where online poker is legal, you’ll find a wide range of online casinos and even sites dedicated solely to playing poker to suit your needs.

Sports Betting

Until recently, legal sports betting in the US was only available in a few states, most notably Nevada. Today, in addition to the states listed above, numerous others are working towards fully regulated sports betting. 

This is attributable to the Murphy v. NCAA Supreme Court ruling in 2018, which laid a foundation for legal sports betting in the United States. Sports betting includes both online and mobile betting. 

Online betting may include a wide range of events, including bets on NFL, NBA, college football, NHL, and MLB games. You may even get the opportunity to bet on non-sports events such as the Academy Awards — popularly known as “specialty betting.”

Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports allow you to create your own dream team from real players. Your team’s performance is then measured based on those players’ stats in real life. Your team competes against other Fantasy Sports player’s teams, and just like regular sports betting, you can place bets on who will win, among other things.

The Best Online Gambling Sites in the USA (2020)

To get the best gambling experience, you need to find the best gambling sites. You want a site that is user-friendly and offers fast payouts. Note that as US-based gambling sites are few in number at present, and you can only bet within state lines with those sites, some of the options below are not in the US, but they do all allow American players.

Here’s a look at some of our top picks:

CasinoExclusive Bonus (Terms Apply)Products
El Royale250% for slot gamesCasino
Wild Casino$5,000 welcome bonusCasino
Red Dog Casino225% welcome bonusCasino
BetOnline100% first deposit poker bonus, up to $1000Casino, poker, sports
BetNow50% up to $1,000Casino, sports

Other great sites include:

  • Bovada — Offering a great selection of tables games, poker, live dealers, and sports betting, Bovada is one of the best all-in-one gambling sites. 
  • Planet7 — At Planet7 Casino, you’ll enjoy fast payouts with Bitcoin, progressive bonuses, VIP promos, free spins, and all your favorite casino games. 
  • Café Casino — This online casino offers a 500% welcome bonus up to $5,000 for new customers, along with casino games in instant play form. 
  • Slots.lv — Slots.lv offers a selection of casino bonuses, including a $5,000 welcome bonus. They have tables games, live dealers, and slots tournaments. 

Advantages of Online Gambling 

While the most obvious advantage of online gambling is accessibility—not every town in the United States has a casino nearby—it also offers a range of other benefits.

Ability to Play Games Instantly

Whether you have 5 minutes at a bus stop or you’re at home relaxing, you can play online casino games anywhere, anytime, instantly. There’s no travel, dealing with other patrons, or waiting to cash in your chips.

Attractive Bonus Schemes

Land-based casinos rarely offer bonuses or rewards, and often jackpots are only available on select games. Bonus programs are one of the biggest advantages of online casinos. They are a great way to improve your chances of a big payout. 

Most online gambling sites offer match deposit bonuses, bonus spins, and other bonus offers. If you’re just getting started with online gambling, you can expect a range of bonuses and rewards in the form of welcome packages for new customers. 

Better Odds

Return to Player (RTP) is usually higher in US online casinos compared to their land-based counterparts. That’s because the operating costs of online casinos are much lower than brick-and-mortar casinos.

Those lower operating costs allow online casinos to offer a better RTP—and that means better odds. 

Variety

Online gambling platforms give you access to a vast selection of casino games and sports events with just a few clicks on your PC or smartphone. If one site doesn’t have what you want, there are plenty of options out there. With a brick-and-mortar casino, you’re limited to what your local casinos decide to offer.

Customizable Experience

Perhaps the best thing about gambling online is that you can find the right site for your needs. Gamblers have different betting and playing preferences, and one site can’t meet all those needs. 

Odds and Ends—Online Gambling FAQ

Can I access casino games on my phone?

Yes. Many US gambling sites have a mobile-friendly platform that allows you to load casino games through your phone’s browser. While some offer a limited selection of games, many are comparable to the site’s desktop version. 

Do I have to download software to play?

You don’t need to download software to enjoy online gambling or sports betting. Virtually every US gambling site offers a web-based instant play platform to load games through your web browser. Some options do also offer software downloads, but they aren’t universally mandatory.

What payment options do I have?

Most US online casinos accept deposits and withdrawals through credit cards and various e-wallets, such as PayPal. Payment methods vary by casino. 

Where can I play casino games for free?

You can play your favorite online casino games for free anywhere in the US. However, most of these games are just for fun or practice and don’t involve any cash winnings.

Why can’t I play games from certain developers?

Games from some developers like NetEnt, IGT, and Microgaming, aren’t available at many US online casinos. These developers only operate in licensed regions, and few casinos are licensed to offer these games in the United States.  

Will I earn loyalty points?

Some online casinos do offer loyalty programs like land-based casinos. In fact, some online options are run by brick-and-mortar casinos, and the points you earn online will apply if you visit in person too! Caesars is an example of a casino that offers online loyalty point accumulation. 

Where do I get help if I have an issue with a casino?

If you have an issue with a casino, try to contact their customer support team. If you can’t find a solution, consider voicing your concerns at one of the reputable online forums. These forums usually work with casino management and can help address your problem. 

What happens if I lose my Internet connection or get disconnected?

Some gambling sites will automatically reconnect you right where you left off. In those that don’t, there’s usually a standard procedure detailed in the help section regarding what to do, and you’ll get a refund. However, do not attempt to avoid losses by intentionally disconnecting if things are going badly. You may be credited a few times, but customer support will catch on, and eventually, you’ll be banned.

Are online gambling earnings taxed?

Yes. For in-person and online gambling, your net earnings are considered taxable income on your federal return. That applies whether you gambled at an international or US site. You may be asked for your personal information when you sign-up to meet US tax reporting requirements.

Most sites will send you a W2-G if your earnings exceed a certain threshold, but technically, you are supposed to report any earnings, whether it’s $10 or $10,000. If you don’t receive a form, you can report it under “other income.” 

As far as state income taxes, that varies by the state. Currently, in states with an income tax, only New Hampshire and Tennessee do not tax gambling earnings. Many states also don’t allow you to deduct your losses from your winnings unless you file a schedule C and are a professional gambler. 

If you have significant winnings online, we recommend working with a tax expert familiar with gambling income specifically to minimize your tax obligation.

Discover the Best Online Gambling Sites in the USA and More 

Whew—that was a lot of information to cover—but there’s a lot more. We’ve designed our homepage to be a quick crash course in the legality of online gambling in the US, types of online gambling, and the best online gambling sites, but you’ll find all this information covered in-depth elsewhere on our site. Stick around and explore a bit. We promise you’ll find everything you need to know about online casinos and betting sites in the US. If you can’t find the information you need, feel free to contact us. We’re always happy to help.