The U.S. casino gaming market is worth an estimated 71.1 billion dollars. Millions of Americans love to gamble, and being able to play for real money online is a lot more convenient (and cheaper in some cases). But despite the demand for licensed and regulated online gambling in the U.S., we’re still not there. Out of all the countries in the world, the United States has a lot more hurdles when it comes to playing real money casino games online from home.
There’s been a lot of confusion over the years. For the longest time everyone thought it was illegal to gamble online from the US. Then the Government changed their minds.
Then you have the states – there are 50 of them, and the gambling laws are slightly different in each one. They change frequently, too. So keeping up with everything can be challenging to say the least.
The biggest thing you need is that online gambling is NOT illegal under current US federal law. The US government has however, made it illegal for banks to conduct business with offshore online casinos, which makes depositing and withdrawing a bit of a hassle sometimes.
If jumping through a few hoops to deposit doesn’t bother you, then there are several reputable options for US online casinos. The casinos we recommend all accept deposits from US players and do a good job of assisting you through the process of depositing funds and withdrawing winnings. Each of our top rated US casinos offer hundreds of real money casino games including slots, blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and craps.
What Can Americans Use to Fund Their Accounts?
One of the reasons that’s it can be frustrating to gamble online from the US is because of how hard it is to make a deposit.
I’ll explain why in just a second, but first, here are the top banking methods for Americans:
- American Express
- Debit, credit and prepaid cards
- ACH (bank transfer)
- Neteller (legal and regulated casinos)
- Bank transfers
- PayNearMe (legal and regulated casinos)
- Casino cage (legal and regulated casinos)
- Western Union
- Rapid Transfer
The best option – hands down – for funding your account will be a credit, debit or prepaid card. They clear fast, have little to no fees and reasonable limits (high and low).
They’re also the hardest to use.
The reason why it’s so difficult for Americans is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act – UIGEA. The core function of this bill is to prohibit banks from processing payments to and from players.
In fact, the act is so effective banks are scared to process payments even to/from licensed online casinos. It’s been such a problem that these casinos have had to explore other options (like Neteller) for players to use.
If using plastic won’t work for you, your next best option will be a money transfer like MoneyGram or Western Union. There’s virtually no paper trail and your bank isn’t involved. The biggest downside is the fees.
As for cash outs – you can request a wire transfer, money transfer or paper checks.
US Online Gambling Regulation
This is another fun topic to talk about. I’ll try to keep it brief.
For the longest time the Department of Justice led us to believe online gambling was illegal because of the Wire Act.
Then they had a change of heart. In December 2011 they released a memo saying that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting (which is how most of the world interpreted it to begin with).
This was a huge turning point. From that point forward it was, and still is, up to each state to determine what their laws are for (online) gambling.
Three states so far have seized that opportunity. Nevada launched their first legal website in May 2013. Delaware launched theirs in October and New Jersey launched 6 of their own the following November.
And more are expected to pass legislation and launch sites within the next couple of years. Right now experts think California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York and Colorado will pass some type of law in the next 12-18 months.
As for everyone else?
Well, the laws vary from state to state. But the general rule of thumb is that if your state hasn’t deemed online poker (or gambling) legal, then by default it’s illegal.
That said – you can still get away with playing online, as only a handful of states have laws against online gambling, let alone actively go after people breaking the law.
US Land Based Casinos
There are TONS of land based casinos in America.
In fact, most states have some kind of brick and mortar casinos – usually on Indian reservations. Just do a Google search and chances are you’ll find a casino near you.
But what about the most popular casinos? The most popular gambling destinations?
Then these are the cities you’ll want to check out:
• Las Vegas, Nevada – There are more than 25 casinos directly on or around the corner from The Strip. A few of my favorites include The Venetian, MGM, The Mirage and Treasure Island. If you head of The Strip be sure to check out the buffet at M.
• Atlantic City, New Jersey – Choose from options like Bally’s, Borgata, Caesars, Golden Nugget, Resorts, Harrah’s, Tropicana and Trump Taj Mahal.
• Reno, Nevada – The little sister or cousin of Las Vegas, but still in its own fun way. Choose from casinos like Atlantis, Peppermill and Silver Legacy.
• Biloxi, Mississippi – Take your pick from Beau Rivage, Boomtown, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock, Harrah’s and Hollywood Casino.
• Shreveport, Louisiana – This includes options like Boomtown, Diamond Jacks, Harrah’s, Horseshoe and Sam’s Town.
You’ll find plenty to do in any one of those cities, let alone all five of them.
But what if you can’t make the casino?
Another option is to play from home – usually referred to as ‘social’ gambling.
These are legal in roughly 2/3 of states. It’s only allowed if no one profits from running the game, which includes charging a fee, raking the pot or charging people for food/beverages.
Definitely do your homework first, though. Some states DO NOT allow home poker games and are aggressive in stopping them – with SWAT.
And, no, I am NOT joking.
Recent Developments with US Online Casinos
Unlike our other country pages, there is no shortage of gambling news breaking in America. Here are the five largest stories from the past year.
One – Canadian-based software company Amaya bought PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker for $4.9 billion. They completed the sale in August 2014. This matters to Americans because the move was an attempt to get PokerStars involved in the regulated US market.
Two – Ultimate Poker closed their doors. They were the first legal poker site to launch in both Nevada and in the history of the US. They decided to close their doors because their profits have fallen short of projections and that the state-to-state approach to gambling caps their overall potential.
Three – California has seen major progress towards online poker regulation. For starters, the congressmen and key tribal leaders have reached a (soft) agreement as to what the laws should be. Next, PokerStars and Caesars have been working together recently to oppose Sheldon Adelson and efforts to ban online poker.
Four – Even after operating in America for years – in some cases more than a decade – several Merge Gaming skins have decided to ban players from Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware to comply with local laws.
Five – This is probably the biggest news in the last year. Nearly two years after Black Friday, Full Tilt customers are getting paid. The first payments started going out February 27th/28th. The Garden City Group was initially expected to pay out $82 million.