US Online Casinos & Gambling Sites
Who doesn’t love throwing some digital craps over coffee or playing online poker on a fun-filled Friday night? Internet gambling is more popular than ever and that means that a lot of people are looking for easy and safe ways to place wagers online. For players living in the United States, that means looking for sites that are secure and reputable but you probably also want to know which casinos are going to give you the hookup. How can you find games you love while also protecting your investment?
Playing slots online doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, you should be having a blast! That’s why we’ve put together this guide to online casinos in the United States. Read on and you’ll learn all about online casino laws, current regulations, how to make deposits (and facilitate those oh-so-important withdrawals when you win big!), and discover the answers to your burning questions about internet gaming in the US.
Online Casino Laws in the United States
Federal vs State Law: An Overall Look at Gambling Law in the United States
If you’re looking for a black and white answer to the question of legalized online gambling in the United States, you’re at least a few years too early. Internet gambling is still very much a grey area in the US but, believe it or not, that’s a good thing because it means that people just like you can visit online casinos with little to no worry.
There is no federal law expressly prohibiting gambling online in the US and no individual has ever been arrested – much less prosecuted – on the federal level simply for playing some Pai Gow from the comfort of their own home. The US Department of Justice has essentially put regulatory and prosecutorial power in the hands of the states.
So, what about state laws? It depends on the state. Most have yet to update their gambling laws to reflect modern-day innovations like the internet. Therefore, some officials try and take the approach that old, blanket gambling laws are broad enough to cover internet gambling but that argument is iffy at best. With a few exceptions, state authorities don’t have much interest in pursuing people who enjoy gambling from home. While illegal site operators may be at risk, it’s incredibly unlikely that you’ll ever run into trouble with the law for casually playing online slots or internet craps for fun.
There are three states that have passed specific online casino regulations: Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. All three offer cash play sites to residents. Those sites are tied to brick-and-mortar casinos, benefiting those existing operations while offering online players many more options for convenient and secure betting. Several other states are currently considering similar legislation, creating an opportunity for an online gambling network that could benefit players nationwide. In the meantime, only gamblers who live in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey can use those state’s online casinos.
For specific information regarding the local regulations in your state, contact the local gaming authority or a lawyer who is familiar and up-to-date with gambling legislation.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA)
One of the few federal acts with any impact on the online gambling industry, UIGEA stated the following:
“No person engaged in the business of betting or wagering may knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling—
(1) credit, or the proceeds of credit, extended to or on behalf of such other person (including credit extended through the use of a credit card);
(2) an electronic fund transfer, or funds transmitted by or through a money transmitting business, or the proceeds of an electronic fund transfer or money transmitting service, from or on behalf of such other person;
(3) any check, draft, or similar instrument which is drawn by or on behalf of such other person and is drawn on or payable at or through any financial institution; or
(4) the proceeds of any other form of financial transaction, as the Secretary and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System may jointly prescribe by regulation, which involves a financial institution as a payor or financial intermediary on behalf of or for the benefit of such other person.”
In plain language, UIGEA prevents online casinos located in the United States from accepting bets or wagers over the internet. While there are some exceptions (primarily for skill-based games, fantasy sports, and some tribal gaming), UIGEA pretty much eliminates the possibility of legally funding casino accounts opened with US-based sites. Because of this, offshore gambling sites have gained a huge foothold stateside and they welcome eager players from all over the US.
Available Banking Methods for US Gambling Sites
As mentioned previously, federal law prohibits US-based gambling businesses from accepting money for bets or wagers over the internet, but offshore gambling sites are a different story. To open your account and deposit money with one of those sites, you’ll need to use one of these methods:
- Credit and Debit Cards – Credit or debit cards bearing the Visa logo are widely accepted. You can use a card that’s affiliated with your bank or get a prepaid card that can be refilled as needed. Some casinos also accept Mastercard and/or American Express, but usage can be very restricted and many casinos won’t take them at all.
- Web or E-Wallets – Web wallets, otherwise known as e-wallets, are sites that act as an intermediary between your bank account and a third-party business. Once you register for an account, you can quickly and simply send money at will without directly exposing your banking or personal information. Paypal is arguably the most popular of these web wallet sites but there are others such as Neteller and Skrill that are gaining visibility.
- Bank Transfers – You can use the same direct transfer that you use to pay utilities online to send money directly from your bank account to an online casino. This method, commonly called ACH, may be subject to fees and can be practically instantaneously or take a few business days to complete.
- Bitcoin –Bitcoin the most well-known form of cryptocurrency. Rather than relying on physical money, Bitcoin operates in a completely digital form and it’s also completely anonymous. Using Bitcoin to make your casino deposit is cheap (fees are very low), easy, and reliable and considered to be far more secure than sharing your credit card information over the internet. That said, Bitcoin valuations can fluctuate (so check rates before you exchange your Bitcoin for cold hard cash) and fraudulent purchases are neither reversible nor protected.
- On-Site Deposit – If you’re planning on gambling through one of the state-sanctioned internet casinos in New Jersey, Delaware, or Nevada, you may have the option of depositing money in person at the brick-and-mortar casino tied to the online site. You can then deposit and withdraw cash from your online account in person via the casino cashier.
Who Licenses Gaming Sites in the United States?
Thanks to UIGEA, it’s all but impossible for cash-play online casinos to operate successfully in the United States. The exception is online casinos in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada; those three states are pushing for progress by legalizing internet gambling within their borders and setting the stage for others to do the same. More on that in a minute.
Since most Americans play online casinos games through sites located outside if the US, licensing and regulation is up to officials wherever operations for that site happens to be based. In Canada, licenses are issued by each individual province. In the United Kingdom, the responsibility falls to the UK Gambling Commission. Countries in the European Union are usually regulated individually according to their own local gambling laws and have their own regulatory bodies as well. Antigua and Barbuda established the Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gambling in 1994 and they’ve been incredibly busy ever since.
Other Casino Regulatory Bodies
In states like Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey, where online casinos regulations have been put into place, there are oversight committees in place to ensure that things operate as expected. In Nevada, gambling takes place under the auspices of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission. In Delaware, sites go through the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement. In New Jersey, the control for licensing and regulation goes to the NJ Casino Control Commission.
How to Find a Trustworthy Online Casino in the United States
Because most internet gambling in the United States is done via offshore sites not regulated within the US, it can be a little trickier to verify a site’s trustworthiness but it is far from impossible. With a little know-how and some savvy, you can find a site that is both reliable and fair.
- Trust independent auditors. Many countries require that internet casinos undergo regularly auditing from independent testers to verify that the software used is fair and operating in accordance with regulations. Even casinos that aren’t required to submit to auditing often do so anyway as reassurance to current and potential customers. Look for seals from companies like Gaming Labs Certified, TST, and eCOGRA to boost your confidence.
- Ensure your transactions are protected. Any online casino worth your time will have invested in encryption technology that keeps your deposits secure.
- Look for sites that are safe and secure. You don’t want to mess with a site that’s infected with spyware, malware, or viruses, so check that the casino is protected by a company like McAfee or Norton.
- Check out the customer service. Hopefully you’ll never have a problem while gambling, but if you do it’s nice to know that there’s a customer service time ready to help you find a resolution. You can research a site’s track record using online review sites and gambling message boards.