Regulated & Legal USA Online Casinos

The US online casino industry is an ever-changing landscape as many individual states have moved to pass online gambling legislation in recent years. Although the focus has been primarily on pushing through sports betting bills, online casino gaming continues to be a lucrative market in states with regulated markets and even those without.

US online casino regulators

Online casino regulation in the United States is handled by each individual state. The vast majority of states have their own department or division of gaming within the government while some have independent racing and gaming commissions.

Any gambling company that wishes to offer online casino products and services within state borders must apply to the relevant gambling or gaming department. However, in those states where online casino gambling is regulated, there may be a limitation on the number of license issued.

There are also several grey states where there is no specific prohibition of online casino gaming in state legislation. In these states, international gambling companies will often serve the market, but it is important to note that these companies are not regulated and have no rules or restrictions regarding how they conduct their gambling business.

Online casino laws in the United States

Casino gaming is legal in many states in the US. However, this does not mean that online casino gaming is permitted in all states with bricks and mortar casinos.

In fact, some states have passed legislation to prohibit all forms of remote gambling (gambling via the internet) even though they have thriving retail casino industries.

One important fact though is that there is currently no federal law that prohibits online casino gaming or online gambling of any kind. This wasn’t always the case though as back in 2006 President George W. Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). While this law didn’t specifically target online casino gaming, it did make it illegal for businesses to transfer funds to and from online gambling companies.

The UIGEA didn’t come into effect until 2010 at which point many online poker companies had already pulled out of the US market. A few remained and would pay the ultimate price.

On April 13th, 2011 the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a 52-page indictment that named executives of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. The indictment also included a civil complaint against the companies that sought $3 billion in assets from the sites. As you’d expect, this had a negative impact on the potential for regulated casino gaming.

However, the Department of Justice later that year published a revised opinion on the Federal Wire Act that indicated that it only applied to sports betting. The Federal Wire Act had previously been used in conjunction with the UIGEA to determine if any state laws were broken but the DoJ’s new stance on the Act opened the industry up for possible legalization and regulation on a state-by-state level.

Since then, several states have moved to legalize online casino gaming, but the US Supreme Court’s decision that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was unconstitutional put all the focus back onto sports betting.

This means that online casino regulation in individual states has stalled as lawmakers push through legislation for the more lucrative sports betting industry.

How to spot a licensed US online casino

There are many international gambling companies (often referred to as offshore companies) that allow US players to register at their online casinos. However, as these online casinos are not regulated, players who use them do so with no legal protections.

With this in mind, it’s a good idea to only use online casinos that are licensed by a state authority. And the easiest way to find out if an online casino is licensed in your state is to check for it licensing details on the homepage of its website or its home screen on a mobile app.

Alternatively, many state gaming departments and divisions will list all licensed online casino operators on their websites.