An Overview of Regulated iGaming Markets in the USA

US gambling law is undeniably complex, thanks in part to North America’s federal governance system that affords individual states autonomy on certain matters.

This is why some states (such as Nevada) have gambling laws that date back to the 18th century, whereas others have made no provision for legal betting and wagering at all.

Online gambling law is even more challenging to get your head around, not least because there’s a legal distinction between casino wagering and remote sports betting.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at regulated iGaming markets in the USA, while also considering the recent growth in sports betting stateside.

The State of Legal iGaming in the US

At the time of writing, six US states have legalized online casino gambling; namely New Jersey, Delaware,  Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Michigan.

You’ll find that many of the best online casinos in the USA listed at operate in a number of regulated iGaming markets, including stellar names such as BetMGM, Borgata, and the 888 Casino. This online casino guide also reviews licensed and regulated platforms in detail, helping you to make an informed decision based on your location.

You can rest assured that such sites are safe online casinos that take proactive steps to optimize and safeguard your experience online, and this undoubtedly makes it much easier to navigate an increasingly competitive and busy marketplace.

Unsurprisingly, New Jersey and Nevada were the first states to follow this course of action in 2011, with Atlantic City and Las Vegas considered to be the spiritual homes of offline gambling.

NJ’s online gambling bill was passed after a reinterpretation of the Federal Wire Act, which found that this piece of legislation only prohibited interstate sports betting and not online casino wagering. This negated the chief objection that customers could access state computer terminals and place wagers from anywhere in the USA, allowing the bill to pass in full.

Delaware followed suit by legalizing an even more comprehensive range of iGaming verticals in June 2012, with Pennsylvania finally joining the party in 2017.

Two years later, West Virginia followed suit and passed a bill legalizing online casino gambling (alongside remote sports betting), with Connecticut and Michigan to latest to follow suit.

Michigan also approved comprehensive legislation that made provision for legal iGaming, sports betting, and poker wagers online, but we’ll touch more on the legality of remote betting a little later in the piece.

What About the UIGEA Legislation?

Despite the prevalence of online casino platforms in the USA, it should be noted that the infamous Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) is still on the statute books in North America.

The UIGEA was added as Title VIII to the SAFE Port Act as it passed through the US Senate, while its key provision prohibits “financial institutions from processing transactions to or from unlicensed gambling websites”.

However, a crucial ruling has already established that the legislation doesn’t prohibit Internet gambling on a game of chance, enabling the best online casinos in the United States to set up legally in certain jurisdictions.

Because of this and other factors (such as the enforcement of the Wire Act), the UIGEA is rarely utilized at a federal level, except in the case of unlicensed operators being sanctioned or instances where brands try to take wagers in states where the practice is not legal.

However, while the top online casinos are able to operate freely so long as they comply with the legislation in their state jurisdiction, the UIGEA has proved highly effective whenever it has been used to sanction under-fire betting brands.

A Word on Sports Betting

We’re going to close with a word on sports betting, which has also exploded following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the controversial PAPSA legislation in May 2018.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 had previously prohibited sports betting at the federal level, but overturning this piece of legislation enabled individual states to legalize the practice and monetize it for tax purposes.

This is a huge boon for state jurisdictions, many of which have significant shortfalls in their treasuries as large corporations continue to avoid levies being placed on their income.

Obviously, all six of the states who had previously legalized online casino games moved quickly to approve sports betting, incorporating this into their existing legislation and significantly boosting their gross gaming revenues in the process.

At the time of writing, more than 30 US states have legalized sports betting, while others have bills in the pipeline to create their own regulatory frameworks.

The question that remains, of course, is will other authorities follow suit by legalizing casino online gameplay. Well, Indiana is the best candidate to legalize online casino gambling in 2023, as despite the state’s short legislative session and 2022 election, has a number of lawmakers who are well-versed on the subject of iGaming.

Iowa could also move to legalize online casino gambling in the near term, while New York is likely to consider yet another iGaming bill at some point in 2023.

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