The legality of online gambling in the United States is always ambiguous. Casino affiliates are often confused as to what the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 covers, and on whether there are different  laws in place that ban the participation and offering of online gambling in different states.

The answer to these questions is not simple, some states have laws in place that forbid gambling over the internet by all means, other states don’t have specific laws against internet gambling, but that does not make participation in online gambling legal. This is an issue that is best discussed step by step, in this article we will address the UIGEA as well as each state’s stance on online gambling.

About the UIGEA

The UIGEA is a widely misunderstood legislation because of the ambiguity of its definitions and clauses. A lot of people in the online gambling industry, especially players, believe that the UIGEA bans all forms of participation in online gambling, but this isn’t the case at all.

This legislation forces all banks, financial institutions and third party payment processors to block all financial operations and transactions with online gambling operators by law. The effect is that players, affiliates and casinos often have a lot of obstacles to overcome when trying to deposit and withdraw funds from casinos. However, the UIGEA is written in such ambiguous terms that even financial institutions stated that it would be close to impossible to monitor and block financial transactions to the extent that the US Federal Government suggested it should be done.

The reason why so many companies withdrew from the US market after the UIGEA was passed was not due to fear on the legal (or illegal?) status of the activity, but in order to protect the interests of investors and stockholders. As a matter of fact, many companies have stated that it was the ambiguity of the UIGEA that drew investors away from the market. Even though the UIGEA doesn’t make online gambling illegal, it is always recommendable to check each individual state’s law regarding online gambling.

Online Gambling per State

Online gambling is subject to individual state laws, each state determines whether individuals can gamble within its borders and whether online gambling companies can operate legally within the state. The table below provides a summary of each state’s stance on online gambling. Keep in mind that laws are often subject to different interpretations and this is our own; however, we encourage further research on the topic and on your own state’s laws.

 

 

State

Legal by Law

Legal by Lack of Law

Illegal by Law

Ambiguous

0 District of Columbia

X

 
1 Alabama

There is no written law banning internet gambling in the state of Alabama. However, gambling is considered an illegal activity and the definition isn’t clear.
2 Alaska

X

No statute addresses online gambling. Check age requirements for different types of games.
3 Arizona

X

Online gambling for financial gain or profit is illegal. Exceptions must meet certain requirements.

Promotion of gambling is a class 5 felony.

4 Arkansas

X

 
5 California

X

 
6 Colorado

Transmission and reception of gambling information is illegal. There have not been prosecutions for internet gambling, yet the statute’s interpretation is ambiguous.
7 Connecticut

Gambling is illegal and it is defined as risking something of value for gain contingent on chance. The definition could apply to internet gambling under some interpretations. No clause makes reference to internet gambling.
8 Delaware

X

 
9 Florida

X

There are two bills that proposed regulated online gambling in Florida being discussed at the time.
10 Georgia

X

The definition of gambling in Georgia is any individual making a bet on the result of any contest or game. Gambling is considered an illegal activity. The definition can be interpreted differently.
11 Hawaii

X

 
12 Idaho

X

 
13 Illinois

X

 
14 Indiana

X

This state defines “unlawful gambling” as when an operator knowingly or intentionally uses the internet to engage in unlawful gambling. Anyone involved with online gambling is committing a class D felony.
15 Iowa

X

 
16 Kansas

X

 
17 Kentucky

X

Despite the entire craze that happened to seize some online gambling domains, no laws have been written regarding online gambling.
18 Louisiana

X

 
19 Maine

X

 
20 Maryland

X

 
21 Massachusetts

No specific statute addressing internet gambling. Gambling is illegal and the interpretation of the law is subject to interpretations that could address online gambling.

The state is a leader in the fight for regulated online gambling.

22 Michigan

X

 
23 Minnesota

X

 
24 Mississippi

X

 
25 Missouri

X

 
26 Montana

X

Montana code 23-5-112, subsection 20(a) states that gambling through the Internet is a crime when using paper money, paper checks, e-checks and similar options.
27 Nebraska

X

 
28 Nevada

X

 
29 New Hampshire

X

 
30 New Jersey

X

In this state gambling can be made legal by referendum, no referendum has addressed online gambling yet. There is no law that specifically bans online gambling.
31 New Mexico

X

   
32 New York

There is confusion on whether current laws on gambling can be applied to online gambling.
33 North Carolina

X

 
34 North Dakota

X

 
35 Ohio

X

 
36 Oklahoma

X

 
37 Oregon

X

The law focuses on the financial processes related to online gambling, making them illegal.
38 Pennsylvania

X

Regulation of online gambling is expected in the close future.
39 Rhode Island

X

 
40 South Carolina

 
41 South Dakota

X

 
42 Tennessee

X

 
43 Texas

X

 
44 Utah

It is difficult to determine Utah’s stance on online gambling legality given that gambling is illegal and there is a lot of confusion on whether those laws encompass online gambling as well.
45 Vermont

X

 
46 Virginia

X

 
47 Washington

X

The law dictates that any person who “knowingly transmits or receives gambling information by telephone, telegraph, radio, semaphore, the Internet, a telecommunications transmission system, or similar means, or knowingly installs or maintains equipment for the transmission or receipt of gambling information shall be guilty of a class C felony subject to the penalty set forth in RCW 9A.20.021.”
48 West Virginia

X

 
49 Wisconsin

X

The law that bans gambling mentions “wire communication facilities,” which is why many people are wary of gambling online in the state.
50 Wyoming

X

 

 

What are your experiences with US online gambling legislation? Do you think this interpretation of the law is accurate? Let us hear your thoughts and comments by posting below and/or at our forums.


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