The answer to the question of can you gamble online legally depends on where you live. Some states are home to legal iGaming, while others haven’t yet jumped on the bandwagon. Regardless, federal legislation has created a broad framework of restrictions while leaving room for state or local laws to provide more specific details on what can be legal.
The good news is that it’s increasingly common for people to play games like poker, sports betting, and digital slots online, and a number of top-tier operators offer those games in the United States. That said, it’s still important to check out the rules in your area before gambling, since laws are always changing.
New York, for example, has made a concerted effort to put the “is gambling legal in NY?” question to bed once and for all. In addition to requiring that sites link to responsible gambling resources and assistance programs, the state’s Gaming Commission is also open about which operators have contracts with it.
This level of transparency has helped New York establish itself as a leader in responsible gambling, with the state even offering a dedicated hotline for help. However, the state’s law is still somewhat restrictive when it comes to the types of iGaming available, and some players may not be comfortable with this limited scope.
While iGaming has gained traction in the state, Wyoming’s law remains more restrictive. Currently, only land-based casinos are legal in the state, and Wyoming’s only legal sportsbooks are located on tribal lands. This system has kept the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel from establishing sportsbooks in the state, but it could potentially open the door for more iGaming options in the future.
Aside from the aforementioned regulations, some state-level lawmakers have been more receptive to allowing online gambling. The first major example was Delaware, which began offering sports betting in 2012 and regulated online casino gaming in 2013. More recently, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has passed legislation allowing Michigan residents to place wagers at legal online casinos. The move has made Michigan the fourth state to make iGaming legal, but its offerings are significantly less robust than those of the more established markets.
Another state that’s taken a more conservative approach to legalizing online gambling is Iowa. While an online casino bill has failed to gain traction, the Hawkeye State did approve mobile sports betting this year. Nonetheless, online casinos remain illegal in Iowa, and even a social casino app isn’t available for the state’s residents. This is likely due to a 1961 federal statute known as the Interstate Wire Act, which prevents transmission of information and payments relating to sports wagering across state lines. A 2021 re-interpretation of the Act opened the door for sports betting, but the full implications of the law haven’t been tested yet. The state does, however, have a number of other iGaming options. These include the lottery and horse races, along with several tribal-run casinos that aren’t part of the big three online casinos.