There have been a lot of changes to gambling laws in the US, with specific forms of it banned at various times and others more permissive. One of the biggest challenges has been how to regulate the activity online. Ultimately, the US government leaves it up to individual states to set their own rules about how people wager within their borders, which can vary widely depending on the state.
Whether it’s online poker, sports betting or casinos, the question of can you gamble online legally depends on where you live. Currently, all states except Hawaii and Utah allow some form of legal online gambling, but the details vary by state. For example, New Jersey has more online casino options than any other US state, thanks to the iGaming industry’s move there back in 2013. The Garden State was first to launch sports betting and offers apps from DraftKings, FanDuel and MGM, among others, while the rest of the nation is slowly following suit.
Michigan is another recent addition to the list of legal online gambling sites, with a full lineup of sportsbooks from DraftKings, FanDuel, MGM and Caesars available, although in-state collegiate games are off-limits. New Hampshire has more limited offerings, with a single app from DraftKings working in close partnership with the state lottery and a few additional options from other partners. The Granite State is also one of the few to ban high school sports wagers.
Legal online gambling in the United States has a relatively short history, since the rise of the internet allowed it to proliferate in the past decade as part of the “poker boom” that saw millions of dollars wagered every day on unregulated sites. The federal government finally took action in 2006 with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, but that didn’t stop millions of people from gambling on the web. Instead, players simply transferred their money to offshore providers and kept playing.
While the internet has allowed the proliferation of unauthorized online gambling operators, the growth of regulated platforms like those offered by the major sportsbooks has changed the equation considerably. In the wake of that development, the major sportsbooks have been able to leverage their brand name and established relationships with customers to negotiate favorable terms with reputable gaming regulators and ensure fair play, transparency and security.
The result has been an increase in the number of legitimate online gambling sites and a greater willingness by states to introduce their own options, with more than half of the country now offering some form of legal gambling at regulated websites. But there is still a lot of work to do. State regulations aren’t always up to speed with the technology, and some online gambling providers will operate with different rules and restrictions in different jurisdictions. Those differences can make it difficult to compare the features and pricing of a given site across states. But there are signs that things are changing for the better, with many more states likely to open up their markets in 2023.