Online Gambling Laws Defined: Is it Legal in the US?

Understanding legal jargon and the wording of federal and state laws in the United States is complicated and often difficult unless you have a specific legal education. That’s probably why many people are still confused as to exactly what is legal and illegal in terms of online gambling laws.

Here, we’re going to break down the specifics of these laws for you so you can be safe and protected when playing games and placing bets online.

Let’s dive in.

Is Internet Gambling Legal in the United States?

The short answer? Yes.

There is no federal law in the United States that specifically prohibits online gambling.

However, it’s more complicated than that. There are specific laws in place monitoring different areas of gambling: taking bets, placing bets, advertising, and payment processes are all subject to different laws in the United States.

It also gets ambiguous when you factor in the fact that each state has individual laws regarding Internet gambling.

Online Gambling Laws

Let’s take a look at some of the specifics of online gambling laws.

Placing Bets

There are no federal laws prohibiting placing bets or wagers online.

While there is no specific law dictating this, it is assumed that you should only be placing bets on websites that are run from servers in other countries.

That’s why many servers or websites for online pokies and other online gambling sites are based in other countries where it is explicitly legal.

“Accepting” Bets

Accepting bets is another issue. Websites and people are prohibited from accepting money that was gambled illegally. Since online gambling laws are so ambiguous, this is hard to prosecute, but it is something to keep in mind especially if you are gambling on US soil.

Even if you are accepting bets through a foreign server, there is legal precedent to prosecute. So be wary if you are accepting online bets.

The one thing that is explicit in federal law is that you are not allowed to accept money from sports betting. Taking online bets on sports is illegal in the United States and can be prosecuted in court.

State Laws

All of the information we’ve gone over so far concerns federal laws. However, you also need to be aware of the state laws in your area.

Each state has different laws determining the legality of gambling, both online and offline. Do your research about the laws in your jurisdiction before placing or accepting bets online. You can find a detailed list of state gambling laws here.

Bottom Line

While we would like to give you a clear-cut answer about whether you can gamble online, it isn’t that simple. The simplest answer is “yes” because there are no federal laws saying otherwise.

However, you need to keep both state-specific online gambling laws and previous legal precedent in mind as you either place or accept bets online. It’s better to be careful and do your research than to make an impulsive decision and get slapped with a fine or jail time.

If you’d like more information or want to consult a lawyer, we’ll help find the people who can help you.