Online Gambling For Real Money 2021

Over the last several years, legal online gambling has become more popular than ever. Many states in the U.S. now offer licenses for online casinos, and others offer online sweepstakes casino games. Residents of these states have a huge variety of real money online gambling options to choose from. In fact, it can be hard to keep up with all of the choices.

Many U.S. residents can now enjoy online slots, table games, poker tables, and live dealer casinos to fill their time (and hopefully their pockets).

Below we will delve into all of the online options and what differentiates them from one another. Whether you’re new to real money online gambling or an old pro, we have information that will make your betting experience even better.

Best Online Gambling in the United States for 2021

Real Money Online Gambling In The US

There are several types of real money online gambling available in the US, but your options depend on your state of residence. Some states have legalized a large number of gambling options online. Others are still working through the process, and aren’t quite there yet. We will break it all down for you below.

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US Online Casino Sites

Currently, the states that have legalized online gambling are Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Delaware was the first state to legalize online gambling with New Jersey following shortly thereafter. Interestingly, New Jersey launched its online gambling sites a day before Delaware did in November 2013.

Pennsylvania threw its hat in the ring in 2017. It legalized real money online casinos to become the third state in the US. Most recently, in 2019, West Virginia joined as the fourth state to legalize online casinos. Plenty of states are working toward becoming the next.

For example, Michigan has already gone through the legalization process. However, gambling won’t officially begin until they settle on rules and regulations. Other states that may follow in Michigan’s footsteps are Indiana and New York. Indiana has seen huge revenue by introducing online sportsbooks. Meanwhile, New York likely wants to tap into the online gambling revenue that is currently going to New Jersey.

Some individuals also believe that since West Virginia has legalized online real-money gambling, other Southern states may follow suit. Similarly, some believe Michigan will inspire other states in the Midwest to jump on the bandwagon.

Every online casino has its selection of gaming options, but most offer classic games. Some of the commonly-offered games you can bet real money on include:

Some online casinos also include poker games or specialty options like lottery games, bingo, keno, and scratch cards. Others incorporate an arcade into their website with free or paid games that you can play if you want to try something new.

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FanDuel is one of the most top-notch online sportsbooks in the US. Available in multiple states, they offer a wide range of sports and favorable odds. FanDuel Sportsbook offers one of the best risk-free bet offers for new bettors. 

US Online Sportsbooks

Sports betting is another option for real-money betting online. It revolves around sports games and matches. This is an option that many states are now offering, even those in which online casinos are illegal. Each of the states below has already legalized online sports betting:

Even more states are working toward legalizing online sports betting for those who want to wager on games from the comfort of their home. Washington, DC, for example, has already legalized online sports betting. However, it is working through a court injunction, which may or may not be resolved soon.

Illinois became the most recent state to launch online sports betting. Over the summer of 2020, several online sportsbooks launched, including DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetRivers. More are expected to follow suit. 

In addition, Michigan has made online sports betting legal but does not yet have any operating platforms. Tennessee also falls under this umbrella since it has legalized online sports betting but has no sportsbooks yet available. In both of these cases, there will likely be online websites to wager on sports in either 2020 or 2021.

With so many states getting involves in sports betting online, it wouldn’t be surprising to see several new states jump on board in 2020. This is likely to be especially true in states that offer retail sports betting but haven’t yet gone through the process of offering online wagering. Some of the states to watch for include:

  • Arkansas
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Basics Of Online Sports Betting

If you’re curious about what sports betting is all about, we want to share the basics with you. Essentially, online sports betting involves making wagers related to sports games. You might place a bet on a winning team, a player that you believe is going to score the most points in a match, or even a game that you predict will go into overtime.

While some states previously allowed sports betting inside casinos, others have taken this a step further by also making it possible online. The convenience of online sports betting makes it hugely popular among players. Simultaneously, it brings in significant revenue for the state.

Legal US Online Poker Sites

Just like online casinos and online sports betting, some states have made online poker available while others have not. The states that currently offer online poker are:

  • Delaware
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia

Some states have legalized online poker but are still in the process of introducing websites and apps for residents. Significantly, Michigan will also be introducing online poker alongside online sports betting and online casinos. It is now legal, but regulations are still in development.

You can also watch states that already have some form of legal online real-money gambling to see if they make any moves toward online poker rooms. This could include any of the following:

  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Montana
  • Colorado

Of course, just because a state offers online casinos or online sports betting doesn’t mean it will also immediately offer online poker. However, if the state has shown that it is open to online gambling options, it might be more likely to consider adding poker. Doing so would bring in additional revenue.

Other states that might look into online poker after the legalization of sports betting include Virginia, Tennessee, and Illinois. However, these locations have not yet legalized online real-money casinos. The wait may be longer or may not occur at all. 

It all comes down to how the government and people in the state feel about gambling as a whole, as well as the potential for it to thrive online. Feelings on gambling vary wildly from one place to another. For example, online real-money gaming is less represented in the South and the Midwest than it is on the coastal or the Northern States.

Each online poker provider will offer its own set of games along with the classics. The most popular options include Texas Hold’Em, Omaha, seven-card stud, 2-7 triple draw, and open-faced Chinese poker. However, you’ll also see other variations depending on the operator and state offering online poker games.

Playing At Sweepstakes Casinos For Cash Prizes

Sweepstakes casinos are different from traditional retail or online casinos. They often act as alternatives to regulated casinos or poker rooms. Sweepstakes casinos often offer a large number of games that you can legally play to win virtual currency or other prizes.

How Do Sweepstakes Casinos And Poker Sites Work?

Typically, you participate in sweepstakes casino games or poker on a website, social media platform, or an app for your smart device. To use one of these sites, you’ll sign-up by completing a registration form that will ask for your personal details. It should not ask for any financial information.

After you sign-up for a specific sweepstakes website, it will usually provide you with free virtual currency so you can start playing right away. The best sites may even offer different daily, weekly, and monthly bonuses that will make it easier to earn more virtual currency as you play more games. Some sites will also let you purchase credits if you start to run low.

How Do You Win Real Cash?

Some of the top online sweepstakes websites like Funzpoints offer the option to play certain sweepstakes to win actual money. When using these sites, you can use items called “Sweeps Coins” and “Gold Coins” to play games like blackjack, slots, or roulette. You can play the games for free and still win cash prizes.

When you play the games on these online sweepstakes sites, you can win coins that can be redeemed for real cash. In most cases, the winnings are then wired to your bank account within three to five days. This is just one of the reasons these websites are a great alternative for those who cannot access legal online casinos in their current locations.

Since the top websites that offer sweepstakes gaming have promotions that include free coins, you can get started right away with playing games to earn real money in your bank account. There are also often progressive slot games at these websites where you can rack up lots of coins in a short period if you get lucky with your spins.

Do You Have To Deposit Money To Play?

No. When it comes to sweepstakes gaming online, there is no requirement to deposit to start using an account. If this was a requirement, the site would move from legal to illegal territory. It would fall into the category of an online casino or poker room instead of a sweepstakes website.

However, some sites offer the option to deposit money through a bank card if you want to access additional coins. What makes them different from other forms of gaming online is that they adhere to laws related to sweepstakes contests and adapt them for popular games like video poker and table games. 

On the other hand, some sites do not allow deposits at all. Instead, you are given a certain amount of coins when you start playing. Winning games can provide you with extra coins that can be withdrawn as cash so you can make money playing your favorite games. 

You can obtain free Sweeps Coins in many ways if you prefer to avoid spending money. Some sites have a no-deposit bonus, while others have contests and promotions on social media. All are required to provide you with Sweep Coins if you write and send them a physical letter with the request. This is part of the legality of these sites and why they differ from online casinos.

What States Can You Play From?

Most states throughout the US allow sweepstakes and contests, including those that take place online. However, some states have additional regulations on participating that you should be aware of.

  • Colorado – Prohibits any requirements to make purchases even when winners are chosen based on skill.
  • Florida – Prizes worth over $4,999 have to be registered and bonded seven days before a sweepstakes starts. Also, a list of winners must be available to anyone who requests it.
  • Maryland – Prohibits requirements to make purchases even in skill-based contests.
  • Nebraska – No purchase requirements can be in place, even if the winners are selected based on their skill.
  • New York – Prizes of $5,000 or more have to be registered and bonded 30 days before the beginning of a sweepstakes, and a list of winners needs to be provided to anyone who wants it.
  • North Dakota – Does not allow purchase requirements even when winners are chosen by their skill level.
  • Rhode Island – Retail establishments with sweepstakes prices of more than $500 must register the promotion with the state government.
  • Tennessee – Any sweepstakes prize winners are prohibited from submitting to “in perpetuity” publicity releases.
  • Texas – Rules apply to prizes of over $50,000, including not entering someone automatically into a sweepstakes based on a purchase.
  • Vermont – Doesn’t require those who want a list of winners to pay postage for that information and prohibits required purchases even for winners based on skill.
  • Virginia – Cannot require that a player visits a location to enter since this would turn a legal sweepstakes into a lottery.
  • Washington – Requires disclaimers and terms and conditions in all sweepstakes offers and prohibits unfair and deceptive practices in sweepstakes or other commerce.

Playing Daily Fantasy Sports For Real Money

If you live in the U.S., you’ve probably heard of daily fantasy sports. You may have heard about it from other people, seen websites, or commercials for websites and apps. Below we’ll dive into the many aspects of fantasy sports and explain exactly what it entails and means for you.

How Is Fantasy Sports Different From Sports Betting?

Fantasy sports and sports betting have plenty in common in that they require the same kind of skillset and knowledge bases to do well. Being up-to-date on sports information will give you an edge and can earn real money as well as long-term profits. Both of these types of gambling can be accessed in retail locations, as well as on websites and applications.

However, there are also many differences between the two items. For one, there is a difference between the charged commissions. Secondly, daily fantasy sports involve other players instead of bookmakers. Laws governing the two also differ from each other in many regions of the country. The laws that are associated with daily fantasy sports are much clearer in the United States than can be said for sports betting.

Someone who is experienced with sports betting might be more comfortable sticking with that. Conversely, someone else might prefer fantasy sports due to the clear legal situation. It all comes down to preference, and in some cases location, since not all states offer both fantasy sports and sports betting.

What Kind Of Fantasy Sports Contests Can I Play?

Daily fantasy sports offer a huge variety of contests in which players can partake. You can select everything from Sit N Go games, triple games, double-up games, quadruple games, head-to-head games, and quintuple-up games. However, this is only scratching the surface of the variety available, which can be overwhelming for beginners.

However, even for new players of fantasy sports online, some options are less stressful and complicated to understand. Low stakes games are the optimal place to start, as are tournaments with a large field of players, which creates a better chance of winning. As a beginner gains knowledge and experience, they can move on to the more challenging options.

On the other hand, head-to-head contests are designed for the more experienced players who don’t mind spending hours researching players and building rosters. Thankfully, the websites and apps that offer fantasy sports typically offer games that will appeal to both kinds of players, as well as those who fall somewhere in the middle. 

Below are some of the most common type of games and a short description of how they work:

  • Large Tournaments – These games have a large player field and often offer huge prizes. If a player builds a winning roster, they can win a large prize. Entry fees range from a dollar to $100 depending on the provider.
  • Head-to-Head Tournaments – In this kind of game, one player competes against another player rather than competing against dozens or hundreds of other players. These tournaments are best used by experienced players who have been playing fantasy sports for a long time.
  • 50/50 or Double-Up Games – Another tournament that works well for beginners is the 50/50 since everyone in the top half of the field gets a prize. There is a reduced risk compared to head-to-head but experienced players also participate and can be hard to beat.
  • Triple, Quadruple, and Quintuple Games – These games work by challenging a player to triple, quadruple, or quintuple the initial entry fee. As an example, a quintuple game will have prizes distributed to the top fifth of the field, while a quadruple offers prizes to the top 25 percent, and so on.

Each of these contests can also be played in unique ways such as through a pre-determined bankroll, snake drafting where players take turns picking team members, and pick ‘em where users can choose up to eight athletes for any position.

What States Allow Real-Money Fantasy Sports Contests?

Unlike other forms of gambling online, real-money fantasy sports are available in the majority of the United States. Two of the largest providers of fantasy sports, DraftKings and FanDuel, give an idea of where you can play these games and where you cannot.

The states below are not allowed to engage in daily fantasy sports for real money at this time:

  • Arizona
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Washington

The states that consider this a skill-based gaming option are more likely to make it legal. In contrast, those who consider it closer to traditional gambling are more likely to prohibit playing these games in retail or online locations.

Who Are Some Of The Leading Fantasy Sports Sites?

There are many fantasy sports sites on the market, which can make it challenging to decide which are the best to use. However, some of them are more popular than others and have a larger selection of options, which makes them ideal for beginners and experts alike. These include the following:

The first two are the real leaders in fantasy sports and often include high-quality promotions and bonuses. They are also the providers who are most likely to offer the largest number of sports for you to play in whatever way you prefer to do so.

Depositing At Real-Money Online Gambling Sites

For any online site that takes real money deposits, there are various ways to get the money to the provider. Most of these providers take three or more payment types so you can enjoy online gambling, sweepstakes contests, or daily fantasy sports. Below we’ll be looking into how each of these deposit options works so you can use the method if you wish to do so.

Using Credit Cards At Online Gaming Sites

One of the top options for depositing money at betting sites is through the use of a major credit card like a Mastercard, Visa, or American Express card. Some of the sites and apps will also allow other types of credit cards, such as DraftKings, which lets you use Discover for sports betting and fantasy sports. You’ll want to take a moment to research your available options before signing up to make sure your card is an option.

Credit cards are one of the top payment methods for many. They are highly accessible and accepted by almost any gaming site online. If you have a credit card, many people would argue that it is the best option for any betting websites or apps. However, it’s worth knowing what other options are available in case you prefer another deposit choice.

Using Debit Cards At Online Gaming Sites

The second option in a card form is using a debit card for your daily fantasy sports, gambling, sports betting, or other activities. This is another option that makes it straightforward and quick to fund an account before you start playing. Since almost all banks and credit unions offer debit cards, it’s also simple and easy for most people to get one.

In most cases, you add a debit card by signing into your account and looking for the cashier option. You’ll put in the details of the card along with personal information that can verify you are the owner of the card. Most of the time, the three-digit number on the back of your card will be required, along with the expiration date. Once you submit the information, it will be processed and can be used for future deposits.

How Prepaid Cards Work At Betting Sites

Those who want a specific card for deposits on online gaming websites can choose a prepaid card, which is offered by most major credit card companies. They have several advantages, including wide accessibility, higher anonymity compared to other deposit options, and the ability to convert physical cash into funds for gambling or gaming.

However, be sure you do some research when choosing a prepaid card for gambling sites. Some prepaid cards will not allow deposits to these sites. For that reason, these cards are a less commonly used by players. If your prepaid card doesn’t support the websites and apps on which you want to deposit money, you’ll have to find an alternative method.

Depositing With Bank Wires

Moving away from credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards, another option to deposit funds into a betting site is through a bank wire transfer. Most online gambling and gaming providers allow deposits to be made through bank transfers, and there are reasons to consider it. The biggest reason is that they’re very secure compared to other options.

This payment method is typically free of fees, so you won’t spend extra to enjoy your favorite sportsbooks or online casino. Additionally, bank transfers are the best option for those who make large bets since they typically allow larger deposits than any other option. 

On the other hand, bank transfers can take longer to go through than other methods. The minimum deposit amount can also be higher than other choices. It also makes it nearly impossible to maintain any anonymity about your use of betting sites and mobile apps.

Making Online Deposits In-Person

The least common option for depositing to an online betting site is by doing it in-person. Many operators of these sites do not even offer the option. For those that do, you need to physically go to the website’s sponsoring casino and make a deposit in-person. While this makes sense for online casinos that are located near you, it may be counterintuitive since you have to visit the casino to deposit funds so that you can gamble from home.

Since most online real money betting sites do not have this option, we recommend checking with the operator you want to use first to see if it’s possible. If it isn’t, you’ll have to choose a different provider or use another method to deposit money into your account.

Real Money Online Betting Apps

Most legal online sports betting, gambling, sweepstakes, and fantasy sports websites also offer apps that you can use on your phone or tablet. They will likely be available for users of both Android and iOS devices.

Typically, the apps will have most of the same features as the websites, although this can vary based on the provider. You’ll also find that most of them are designed simply and have a sleek interface that is exciting to use. If you prefer gaming on your phone to using a laptop, you shouldn’t have any issues finding mobile apps to make that a possibility. 

US Online Gambling For Real Money – FAQs

Why did a legal online betting site decline my credit card?

There are several reasons why this can happen. It could be because you didn’t enter the correct card number, expiration date, or other information. It might also be based on the fact that many banks reject deposits to known gambling sites to avoid problems with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. If your bank prohibits the use of these sites, you may need to deposit in another way.

Why do legal online betting sites ask for my SSN?

This is based on laws and regulations that require casinos and many other businesses to report any transaction over $5,000 to the IRS. To ensure the casino or other betting site has the information to report the transaction, having your social security number is crucial. The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 requires this in order to prevent money laundering.

Do legal online betting sites offer mobile apps?

Yes, in many cases, they do. The legitimate online betting sites typically have a website optimized for desktop. They will also have mobile apps available for both Android and iOS devices. However, there are exceptions to the rule, so it’s best to check the offerings on your preferred betting site. Find out if the site you want to use has an app and whether it works with the devices you own.

How do I tell legal sites from illegal sites?

There are several ways to determine whether a site is legal or illegal. The first is to check the laws to see if online betting is allowed in your location. If not, all the betting sites are likely to be illegal. However, even if betting is legal in your state, that doesn’t mean every site is. Most of the time, legal sites will have a casino or other organization in the state as a partner. You can check for these things when deciding whether to use a site.

Do any real money gambling sites let me play for free?

Some do, while some do not. There are sites that only offer free gambling, others that only offer gambling with real money, and some that have a little of both available. However, most real money gambling sites do require a deposit and focus more on paid games than free ones. Make sure you know what the site offers before you start using it to ensure you’re satisfied with the results.

About the Author

Amber Hoffman

Amber Hoffman is Managing Editor of A recovering attorney, she's spent almost a decade developing and managing websites and writing for a variety of industries. Amber became a Cubs fan after living a handful of blocks from Wrigley Field, much to the chagrin of her Mets-loving family and Red Sox-loving husband. Amber writes for a number of online sites including the food and lifestyle site Food And Drink Destinations.