Can I legally gamble online in the United States?

This is a common question that has Americans concerned. Can you legally gamble online in the US? The answer to the question is murky at best, however there are some things that seem to be easy to understand.

I’ll start by saying that this isn’t legal advice, it’s simply what I’ve found from my own research and reading all over the internet, and talking to people in the poker world that play online. Take it how you will and understand that these things change so you should try to look things up yourself and research them some more if you’re very concerned about them. Use this as a starting place, and remember that laws are always changing.

Has anyone gone to jail for gambling online?

As far as I know there hasn’t been anyone that has gone to jail for gambling online from the comfort of their own homes. If you ask me, it’s completely ludicrous that this is even a subject. Nobody should be told that they can’t enjoy themselves from their own home with games of chance and/or skill, but I digress. This isn’t about what I think or what you think should be allowed, it’s about what IS allowed, and what IS happening right now.

As far as federal laws go, there isn’t anything that is specifically banning you from playing online. There are no specific laws that explicitly prohibit gambling online (again I’m not a lawyer). I’m sure if you spoke to a lawyer in your own state they may tell you something completely different. The best advice you can get is to speak with a lawyer in your own state if you must be sure. Hold someone that understands the law accountable.

At this point it seems important to bring up the point that online gambling may be defined differently in different parts of the country. It might be defined as online Gaming in some places. Even still, Poker, for example, is taking a stance that it is a game of skill, and therefore it may not be categorized with other gambling like slots or blackjack. The fight for online poker being played across the USA is further along than the fight for other online gambling simply because of the fact that it does have an argument for being skill based.

No matter what all this means the fact remains that there isn’t any records of anyone going to jail for gambling online. If I had to choose the riskiest types of bets you can make online it would likely be anything related to sports betting as those seem to be the ones with the most “legal” jargon behind them. Poker, in my opinion, would be the least likely candidate for troubles.

What US States ban online gambling or poker?

Even though gambling at the federal level may be allowed right now (or may not be depending on who you ask) There remains to be the fact that some states have already started regulating online gambling and/or poker. Three states, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey, have passed laws that explicitly allow regulated online gambling. In these states it is 100% legal to play on any of their regulated gambling sites.

Everyone should check the rules of their state before deciding to play or not to play, but these states below are especially vulnerable to more rules and regulations when it comes to online gambling or gaming. They are:

Washington:
Washington passed a law in 2006 that explicitly outlaws online poker and making it a felony. Yes a felony! That’s as bad as you can get when it comes to breaking the law. Why they chose to go this route is beyond me, but if you’re in this state my advice would be to stay away from poker and other online gambling. Check up on your state laws to make sure they haven’t also taken an extreme stance like this.

Nevada:
Yes, Nevada does have regulated online poker and gambling, but what it also has is explicit rules against playing at other sites that are not regulated. If it’s not a state regulated gambling site and you like in Nevada then you best stay away from it.

The rest of the list of US states that have explicit laws that outlaw online gambling is this:

Illinois
Indiana
Louisiana
Montana
Oregon
South Dakota

If you live in one of these states then you should keep doing your research before making that first bet online.

By the time you’re reading this things may have changed again. Maybe if we’re all lucky one day everyone in the US would be able to freely make whatever decision they want about online gambling from their own homes. That doesn’t seem like something so far fetched for the land of the free.

In the meantime, do your homework, do your research, and keep bugging your lawmakers to make poker, and/or other online gambling legal in your state. Not sure how to get started? Check a site like theppa.org for easy ways to get involved.

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