In 2018, the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA as unconstitutional and thereby gave each state the right to decide for itself on whether to legalize sports betting. Since then, the USA seems to have gone gambling crazy. More than 30 states have pushed through legal reforms and paved the way for land-based sports books, and all but a handful have also legalized online betting.
What might be more surprising is that despite having the same freedom to do so, only six states have legalized online casino gaming. This is despite casinos being a far bigger cash cow in the US than sports books due to the popularity of land-based facilities in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and at scores of tribal reservations across more than 20 states.
Offshore casino platforms are available to all
Before we unveil the six states, it is important to note that aside from Washington state, the others have not expressly prohibited the act of playing gambling games online. It is only the provision of online casino services that is illegal. Players can still peruse reviews of popular US gambling sites that are based outside their home state or even in other countries and there are no laws preventing them from signing up and playing casino games at these gambling sites from their phones or PCs, wherever they live.
The six states with their own online casinos
It makes sense that lawmakers might see the wealth of online casinos that are available online and make the necessary reforms so that platforms can be licensed to operate officially within state borders – it means optimum player protection and provides a significant source of tax dollars. However, casino gaming does not have the same high-profile lobbyists as sports betting, so less progress has been made. The situation is also complicated by existing arrangements that many states have with Native American tribes who have exclusive rights to land-based casino operations.
As a result, the only states with legal online casinos are as follows:
- Delaware – strange but true, Delaware was the first state to pass laws that legalized online casinos in 2012, although it was not the first to launch an online casino.
- New Jersey – less surprising, the state that pushed so hard to have PASPA struck down was also an early adopter with online casinos. The first ones went live in 2013.
- West Virginia – in 2019, the first online casino went live in the Mountain State. It was soon joined by another three and more are due to be approved by the West Virginia Lottery Commission in the coming months.
- Pennsylvania – it took several years of political debate, but in 2019, online casino licenses started to be issued by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
- Michigan – the Great Lakes State joined the club in 2021 and has licensed two online casinos so far.
- Connecticut – the latest addition, Connecticut’s online casinos officially launched at the end of 2021. These are restricted to web-based versions of the state’s existing tribal casinos.