The United States has long had an ambiguous and complex relationship with gambling. While certain forms have been banned or restricted by specific state regulations, other forms have enjoyed greater freedom. More recently however, more states are opening the door for online gambling to be enjoyed legally within their borders.
Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada took their initial steps toward legalization of online gambling in 2013 when Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada introduced regulated online casino games, poker sites, and sports betting through state regulations. Prior to 2011, federal interpretations of the Federal Wire Act had limited these kinds of sites from operating. But in 2011, the Department of Justice issued a memo which altered this interpretation and opened up state doors to offer such online services.
One year later, Washington allowed residents to place bets online sportsbook of Washington for sporting events and team contests, resulting in one of the quickest launches of a regulated online sportsbook in America. Mississippi followed in 2021 with its limited mobile sports betting app only permitting betting within certain casinos’ borders; Maryland and West Virginia have also launched regulated sportsbooks but statewide mobile markets remain outliers.
Legality of online gambling in the US can be complex. Federal laws prohibit transferring lottery tickets and sports wagers between states as well as tribal casinos, although restrictions for most other forms are less stringent due to websites operated by companies with licenses from specific states.
State licensing authorities typically set the minimum age at 21, while gaming operatorss themselves may impose their own requirements. Such restrictions reflect gambling as an addictive form of entertainment which may become harmful over time; states thus aim to minimize this risk by restricting what kinds of games and establishments are available for gambling.
As of 2022, only Utah and Hawaii do not regulate online gambling; Alaska stands out as being an exception, though lawmakers did try and fail to pass a bill that would have permitted sports betting but tribal casinos already operate sportsbooks under a state-tribal compact agreement.
New Mexico briefly considered legalizing sports betting but ultimately decided against doing so. South Carolina lawmakers fell one vote shy of passing legislation that would have opened up online sportsbook operations for their state-run online sportsbooks; confusion surrounding revised legislation and concerns over collegiate gambling put paid to such efforts.