Why Was Gambling Illegal in the US?

Technically, gambling has not been illegal in the US since the 1930s, though this is basically because of the broadness of the question. Different forms of gambling might have been illegal at various points in time, but it was only between 1910 and 1930 that all forms of gambling were illegal in all states across the US. Plus, each state basically has the power to set its own gambling laws, whether online or offline, so what you can do in one state might be illegal in another. So, it’s fair to say that the full story surrounding gambling in the US is a complicated one, something that this article will help you unravel.

In recent years, it is the various forms of online gambling that have become a hot topic. A handful of states have legalized different types of online gambling from online casino gaming, poker, and sports betting. However, even this is not always straightforward, so it is best to look at the legal online gambling sites listed here to ensure that you’re playing somewhere that is above board. As a general rule of thumb in the online gambling world, a gambler’s reflex should be to check online casino reviews on a credible site such as to make sure they choose a legal gambling platform.

RELATED:  The Players Paradise: Top Online Casinos Lovedby Gamblers Worldwide

Is Gambling Illegal in the US?

Generally speaking, it is not illegal to gamble in the US right now. This is because there are no federal laws in place that specifically ban it. However, the full story is complicated at best. For instance, there are some laws in place, such as the Federal Wire Act of 1961. This law means that while it might be legal to place a bet in one state, you cannot use a telephone or other form of wired communications to place a bet in another state. For example, sports betting is legal in Michigan, which means you can place a bet in Kalamazoo on one of the 40 sporting events that are worth so much to the city. However, if you used the telephone to place a bet at a retail sportsbook licensed to operate in Nevada, you’re breaking the law.

Another law that has caused issues in the past is the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This law is what has prevented states from legalizing sports betting. That law was eventually overturned in 2018 and is the reason why sports betting has now been legalized in so many states.


Online gambling laws are confusing too. While the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 makes it illegal to operate a betting website or online casino within the US, anyone that uses the internet to bet is not breaking the law. This is what led to many Americans signing up for offshore casinos, as they were not breaking the law.

RELATED:  England Test debutant Josh Tongue nets optimistic punter $95,000

Laws Generally Left up to the Individual States

In most cases, the federal laws above count for very little, anyway. The US government basically leaves it up to the states to decide their gambling laws. This means that the laws can differ greatly depending on the state in which you live.

There are just two states where gambling is completely banned, Utah and Hawaii, all the rest allow gambling in one form or another. Additionally, one state might allow online casino gaming but not online sports betting. Another may allow online poker, but not let you gamble at land-based casinos. Each state has their own laws on what you can and can’t do.

Even the legal age for gambling will fluctuate depending on the state, and the form of gambling involved. A good example is Michigan, where you can play in the Mid-States Poker Tour Michigan Championship at the Firekeeper’s Casino when aged 18, but many land-based casinos will not let you enter until you’re 21.

Place Your Ante’s

In short, the gambling laws are a complicated mess. Your best bet (excuse the pun) is to forget about federal laws and just establish what the laws are in the state where you live. Do this whether you want to find out if sports betting is allowed in your state, if you can play online poker, or if it is legal to visit online casinos. Once you have a clear understanding of your state’s laws, you should not have to worry about any others, unless, of course, you’re planning to visit another state any time soon.

RELATED:  Is Mobile Casino Gambling More Addictive?

Hopeful this article has helped you to pick through some of the complexities of online gambling in the US. Gambling is generally not illegal across the US, but as you’ve seen above, it’s not as straightforward as that.

Note:- Please consult your financial advisor before following any guide or link mentioned above.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button