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Gambling for U.S. Players

Gambling online for U.S. players is slightly different from, say, gambling as a Canadian or an Australian citizen. Online gambling remains a popular pastime in the U.S. In fact, gambling sites receive tens of thousands of users just from the U.S. However, the legal aspects of playing with real money on online betting sites remain a bit murky. If you are living in the U.S. and are interested in online gambling, read this article to learn about legality, online payments, and recommended sites for U.S. players.

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Who is Considered a U.S. Player?

The online gambling laws in America, or lack of thereof, applies to you only if you are physically located in the U.S. Physical presence is important for the government to have legal jurisdiction. If you are an American and you play online poker in the U.K., the rules and laws that apply to your activity will be British, not American. On the other hand, if you are a Briton and play online poker on American soil, you will be affected by American laws. So a U.S. player is anyone, citizen or not (excluding diplomats), who accesses online gambling sites from U.S. soil.

Is Online Gambling Legal in the U.S.?

This is a tricky question with no clear answer. The U.S. has yet to fully regulate online gambling, unlike a country like Australia. The U.S. has regular gambling laws that apply on federal and state levels. However, online gambling is not specified in these centuries’ old gambling laws so most local governments cannot prosecute players. However, some local jurisdictions may have specific laws that regulate online gambling, possibly like sports betting. U.S. federal gambling laws do not apply to online betting.

Despite the lack of clear law in the U.S., some federal officials have claimed that betting online in the U.S. is illegal. The Department of Justice made a vague proclamation in 2011 claiming that online sports betting is illegal, but not all online gambling. At other points, federal officials have said that it’s solely up to the states to decide. This stance is similar to the Fed stance on land-based casinos. Some states like Nevada (mainly), Delaware, and New Jersey—where gambling is already somewhat legal—explicitly allow online gambling for residents and visitors alike. It’s possible that more states would follow this lead.

It’s important to understand that online gambling laws can be very confusing in the U.S. However, it’s equally very important to note that there are no explicit federal laws that make it illegal to gamble online either. Most states don’t disallow online gambling specifically. This makes the whole process exist in a rather gray area. You won’t be immediately arrested for playing online backgammon with real money, like you would be if you tried to sell heroin online.

It’s strongly recommended to check the official stance on gambling online in your state of residence. This is usually what determines whether it’s legal or not for you to bet online. If possible, check your city’s laws as well. Some local jurisdictions ban online betting, or one or two forms of gambling, while allowing non-specified forms of online betting. Also, do note that this article does not substitute proper legal advice. If you are really concerned, call up a criminal lawyer in your area and get actual legal advice.

Online Gambling Vs. Sports Betting in the U.S.

Online gambling, like playing poker on a website, is considered legally different from placing sports bets online. In the U.S., online sports betting is illegal. The law is very clear on this. So, do not conflate the two.

Can U.S. Players Use Gambling Sites with Overseas Licenses?

Though domestic law can be quite undecided when it comes to online gambling, U.S. players are nonetheless still affected by the law. U.S. players are largely affected by international laws pertaining to betting activities. If you visit online casinos, you may have noticed that many of these casinos show off gambling licenses obtained in foreign countries, like Gibraltar, where local laws allow legal online gambling.

Obtaining foreign licenses put these sites effectively out of U.S. jurisdiction. While this allows American players to try their luck with near impunity, it’s also risky. If the gambling site dupes you out of your money, you will have to travel all the way to the licensing country to sue the site owner.

Do note that you can be prosecuted if you violate international laws regarding online gambling. When you visit an online gambling site, always check the licensing information. A legit site would list the countries where players are allowed, and also post a list of countries where the site is banned. Do not use gambling sites that are banned in the U.S. The authorities ban sites for good reasons, such as known criminal activity or fraud.

How Can U.S. Players Deposit or Withdraw Money from Online Gambling Sites?

The U.S. has a bill called “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act” that prevents banks and other payment agencies from processing your deposits or withdrawals to gambling sites located overseas. However, credit card companies, like MasterCard and Visa, do allow payments but only to a select number of sites. American Express is rarely accepted on online gambling sites. The best way to pay is using a Visa debit card or using a prepaid Visa card. You can also wire transfer cash using Moneygram or Western Union, though this is not always convenient.

A significant number of players are now using Bitcoin, the digital crypto currency, to pay gambling sites. Bitcoin is unregulated in the U.S. and allows for anonymous transactions. There are also gambling sites that exclusively accept Bitcoin so this is a good option to consider.

Finding a Reliable Online Gambling Site for U.S. Players

The first thing you should look at when using an online gambling site is whether the site is banned in the U.S. Check the licensing information to find out banned countries.


When choosing a site, research reputation, and reliability in advance. You can read online recommendations for good sites for U.S. players. Some sites have long been popular among American online gamblers, like Bovada, which is licensed out of Nevada. Bovada is exclusive to American players so you can easily pay using credit cards and enjoy playing legally.


You can also seek out Bitcoin gambling sites where you may be able to play anonymously. Before you pick a Bitcoin gambling site, do read reviews and check recommendations to see if the site is legit.

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