State of the nation: How does online gambling vary from state to state?

Although it might be called the ‘United States’ of America, when it comes to certain things like gambling and casinos, there is nothing ‘united’ about the United States of America!

As a federalized system, in which each individual state has the power to make laws that apply to their own territory, the availability of gambling has varied quite significantly between states. In the age of online gambling, this means that residents of one state might see a markedly different set of Google search results for ‘best NJ online casino’ in one state versus the next!

Despite what has historically been a system of different rules for different states—with some states having historically had a complete prohibition on casinos and gambling—the last few years have seen some important advancements in the availability of online and offline gambling across America.

Sports betting

One of the most notable developments in the gambling world in America in the last few years relates to sports betting. In May 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled six votes to three to strike down the decades-old ‘Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act’ which had, since 1992, enacted a national prohibition on state-authorized sports gambling, subject to limited exceptions.

For many years, this had meant that sports gambling was essentially unavailable except for an extremely narrow range of exceptions—most notably in Nevada which was one of the few states that permitted individuals to bet on the outcome of a single game.

Following the Supreme Court decision, the longstanding prohibition was struck down, which essentially opened the door for individual states to enact their own rules prohibiting or allowing sports betting.

Although there is currently no state-wide regime regulating online sports betting at a federal level, a number of states have nevertheless introduced their own legislation. Currently, out of a total of 50 states, 20 states have legalized sports betting, six states have recently passed a bill legalizing it, 22 states are in the process of introducing a bill that would legalize it, and three states have made no effort thus far.

We can thus see that when it comes to sports betting—online or offline—there is still a huge amount of variability between states.

Online and offline casino gambling

When it comes to casino gambling—both on and offline—the picture across the United States is similarly mixed. As with sports betting, there is no legal regime regulating online and offline gambling at a federal level, with this left to the states to regulate themselves. As such, certain states have legal in-person casino gambling, while others have prohibited it completely. The same is true for online gambling, with only 14 out of 50 states having legalized online casino gambling. Additionally, in some states,in-person gambling is online available on the sovereign territory of Native American communities, which further complicates matters!

Based on this, you begin to get the impression that there is nothing ‘united’ about the United States of America when it comes to gambling!

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