US Gambling Laws: State-by-State Guides for Legal Gambling

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You can gamble legally in some way or another throughout the majority of the United States. There are, however, specific gambling laws for individual states that restrict and regulate gambling at a local level. The legislation surrounding US gambling laws also depends on whether you’re looking at sports betting, charitable events, keno, lottery, bingo, skill games, and land-based casinos, as well as your state. Out of the USA’s 50 states, only Utah doesn’t have any form of legal gambling, which means there are 49 states where gambling is legal in some form.

While gambling in its traditional forms – casinos, sports betting, horse racing, etc., have been around for decades if not centuries, online casinos and online gambling is pretty new. During the 1990s, with the broader expansion of the internet, Americans could gamble at home. Soon enough, many an online casino popped up, making it easier for Americans to enjoy the likes of roulette, slot spins, and jackpot games from the comfort of their own homes. However, it has to be said that only a few US states regulate gambling online legally at the state level.

In order not to fall under the distribution and not receive the diffusion notice Interpol, each online casino must adhere to strict rules. After all, gambling is always controlled by US authorities.

The expansion of US online gambling laws

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Due to the existence of the 1961 Federal Wire Act, lots of U.S. states were reluctant to make online casinos legal. This legislation is among the most significant laws in U.S. history. Even though it has been over fifty years since the law was passed, its effects still exist today. This act was passed by the 87th Congress and signed as law by John F. Kennedy, who was the U.S. President at the time.

Generally speaking, the Wire Act was supposed to be a tool for law enforcement and helped both the federal government and individual states prosecute criminal organisations (e.g., the mafia) and their ringleaders – but it only mentioned sports betting what the mafia was involved in. However, with the advent and rise of the internet, this law’s scope has been debated, especially since the act prohibits the transmission of gambling information between states.

Eventually, the Wire Act was reversed, which meant states could start legalising online casinos.

A guide for legal gambling in MI

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There are strict rules to follow in MI when it comes to gambling despite the state being extremely liberal compared to others.

In Michigan, horse racing has existed since the times of the Great Depression, and there has been charitable gaming and a state lottery since the 1970s. Charities often offer lots more besides their typical bingo and often have poker nights and casino nights. There are now 41 casinos in Michigan with an estimated revenue of $3.8 billion. You can also gamble online in Michigan, but you’re restricted to horse racing and lottery betting.

The top MI online casino sites can be found at some websites like, which is one of the most trusted resources. In Michigan, the 1990s saw tribal casinos open for the first time as voters approved them to recapture money that was going across the border from Detroit into Windsor, Canada.

How to gamble legally in the US

There are lots of ways to gamble legally in the US. In terms of the legal gambling age, this varies depending on both the activity type and state. State Michigan’s casinos, for example, set their own minimum age, which is either 18 or 21. And other Michigan gambling laws dictate that you must be 32 to use poker rooms.

For other types of gambling like bingo, lottery, dog/horse racing, and pari-mutuel, you must be 18. In other states, these vary again, and in Maine, for example, you only have to be 16 to participate in bingo, while New Mexico has no limit for this form of betting.

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Land-based casinos

Physical casinos are found frequently in the United States. It’s also possible to find riverboat casinos and dockside casinos, as well as clubs, bars, and game establishments allowing betting.

Commercial casinos

As found in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, commercial casinos are owned and operated by giant corporations like MGM, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts.

Native casinos

Native tribes across the U.S. operate these. Around 524 of these native tribe casinos operate in thirty US states. In these casinos, you’ll mostly see Class II Games. This includes slot machines, roulette, craps, and blackjack.

US Gambling Laws – final thoughts

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As we’ve seen, both the individual state governments and the Federal government have responsibilities regarding to gambling and betting in the United States. The Federal government has ruled some types of gambling to be unlawful in the United States and has created legislation to regulate these prohibited activities. When it comes to state laws, Federal laws are always above them.

Many states don’t allow any form of online gambling or sports betting, for example. With its high population of Mormons, Utah does not allow gambling in any form. Hawaii also doesn’t allow any forms of gambling. The states with the most relaxed laws are Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan (as we’ve explored), Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

States are allowed to manage their own prohibitions and regulations when it comes to the legal forms of gambling under Federal regulations. This means that as long as the individual State Laws don’t challenge or go against the Federal laws, they can oversee, control and manage gambling in their state. State laws are only applicable during their borders, and you’ll see gambling laws differ completely as you cross a border.

If ever you’re in doubt about the laws in your state, it’s always best to check to make sure the activities you’d like to be involved in are law-abiding.