January 17, 2023

Casino Gaming Online in the United States

Americans love to take risks, so the popularity of online gambling isn’t that surprising. The United States has an extensive and complex history with online casino gaming. Recent growth of online gambling options can be attributed to that risk-taking attitude fueled by the power and popularity of the internet.

Americans love to take risks, so the popularity of online gambling isn’t that surprising despite the extensive and complex history with online casino gaming in the United States. Recent growth of online gambling options can be attributed to that risk-taking attitude fueled by the power and popularity of the internet. For years casino gaming was only available in sanctioned casinos like Las Vegas or Atlantic City or on a website hosted outside of the United States, but the mobile smartphone boom has expanded access. 

Early on, casino game players often used dial-up modems that would connect them to servers located overseas. Today people still play on their computers, but now are mostly gambling from their smartphones. The smartphone boom has moved online casinos into the mobile world. As the internet became an ever-present and faster utility, many people began to play from anywhere and at any time.

Is online casino gaming similar to video gaming?

The stakes need to be real money for an online game to be considered a casino game.  There are many online games, but Online Casino gaming is any game of chance played online, usually through a smartphone, for real money as a wager. 

Some of the most favorite casino games offered by online casinos include Video Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, and more.

Is it legal to play an online casino game?

Over the years the legality of online casino gaming in the United States has changed drastically.

Lawmakers, becoming aware of the growing number of online casino sites marketing to US consumers but operating outside of the country, drafted legislation to stop them. Over time, state legislatures started to carve out exceptions for users within their state boundaries.

Is online casino gaming now legal in the United States?

This is not an easy answer as the state officials have a lot of operating power to decide the fate of online casino gaming in their state. But The Department of Justice and other Federal Agencies can ban or bar online gaming.

A Timeline of US Gaming Legislation

Internet Gambling Prohibition Act

In 1999, the United States government attempted to ban internet gambling completely. In that year the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act (IGPA) did not pass, but the federal government had often used the Federal Wire Act of 1961 to determine if online gambling was legal or not.

Federal Wire Act

The 2001 clarification of the Federal Wire of Act created an opportunity for state legislators to create their own regulations regarding online sports betting and online casinos within their jurisdictions. The clarification specifically says that interstate sports betting or contests do not violate the act.

2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)

Internet gambling started as an illegal hobby, then received legitimization with the 2006 Senate Bill 1291, and finally, it became a fully regulated market by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Prior to 2006, the U.S. federal government made it very difficult for Americans who wanted to gamble through an online site. Because there was no national framework for regulating or taxing such sites at the time, the government cracked down on illegal gambling websites within its borders.  However, each state had different laws.

DOJ Opinion on the Federal Wire Act

In December 2011, the legal opinion released by the DOJ claimed that the Federal Wire Act’s scope did not include wire communications for sporting events or contests. In 2018 the DOJ reversed its stance and declared that the act indeed applied to all gambling and sports betting.

While the DOJ’s opinion on the Federal Wires Act vacillated, a few states enacted legislative changes to allow online casino gaming.

2013 Delaware

In 2013 the state of Delaware contracted with IGT, gaming operator company, to launch their first online casino games.

2013 Nevada

The State of Nevada reversed its protective stance towards their in-person casino industry, by approval of 2013’s AB 114, giving green-light to online casinos in Nevada

2013 New Jersey

It’s not surprising that New Jersey is found on the forefront of the movement by states. Online poker and casino games were legalized in the Garden State by Gov Chris Christie signing of the Assembly Bill 2578.

2018 PASPA repealed

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, established in 1992, asserts that states, not the federal government, are responsible for regulating their own sports booking platforms. The repealing of PASPA in 2019 as the result of a Supreme Court ruling had a liberating effect on states’ legislation and attitudes towards online gambling. 

2019 Pennsylvania

Online casino started in Pennsylvania in 2019. Today many online gaming operators provide online casinos, online sports betting, and online poker in the Keystone state. 

2021 Michigan

Michigan began offering online casino games in 2021, making it one of the most recent entries to the online casino industry.

2021 Connecticut

Connecticut also legalized online casinos in 2021 and issued licenses for the first gambling sites to launch in October 2021.

Are many casino games available online?

Slots, Craps, Roulette, Blackjack, Video Poker, and many more are offered today. All the favorite games of chance and many new ones are available on one casino platform or another.

Are the offering limited to certain providers of online casino gaming?

There are countless online casino gaming applications. Check within your specific jurisdiction since these apps are very regional. 

Where is online casino gaming allowed?

Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are the 6 states that currently allow online casino gaming within their state boundaries.

Not all types of online gambling are treated the same. For instance, Sports Booking and Blackjack are not regulated the same. As we wrote in our prior post about Online Sports Betting and New Jersey’s Gaming Compliance changes, a common thread is that not all types of games are treated the same.  Although there are commonalities, each game has its own set of unique regulation.

What is the relation between Location and online casino gaming?

To remain compliant with state legislation, location plays a critical role for gaming operators. With each new player and with each wager, it is essential to determine if a player is within the legal jurisdiction. Locance helps the gaming operator customers do just that. 

How does Locance help with mobile gambling compliance?

Locance offers a comprehensive, real-time cloud-based multi-source geolocation service for online gambling, sports betting, and internet casino platforms.  Our secure, enterprise-grade APIs are used by operators as part of their compliance with regulations.

Using trusted and secure location determination, Locance offers the following for Gaming Operators:

  • Location Verification: Determine if players are in or out of a valid jurisdiction for immediate transaction approval
  • Compliance: Comply with regulation for national, in-state or on-site transaction verification
  • Security: Provide “green light” transaction approval and block suspicious activity
  • Gamer Invitation: Notify users when in an allowed area to use your application
  • Personalization: Tailor communications to users where and when they are receptive
  • Interaction: Allows for geo-based "nudges” to the player that increase engagement

How is a gamer’s location validated by Locance?

Some of the technologies Locance has pioneered to verify location include:

  • IP Address - While a ubiquitous solution for online device location, the increasing use of other connections such as satellite, mobile gateways, and anonymous proxies make it undependable on its own. In certain jurisdictions, IP address alone is not sufficient to confirm user location.
  • Browser Location - Browser location technology gathers location data from mobile and desktop devices using Wi-Fi, Cell site, GPS, and other signals to determine the best available location.
  • Mobile App Location - Through a sophisticated SDK for use in iOS and Android apps, operators may access the most precise location information available along with device insights to assess its trust level.
  • Device Profiling - The Device Profiling technology analyzes device attributes, connection details and behavioral heuristics to identify suspicious configurations, anomalous conditions, and use patterns that could signal fraudulent activities. It’s future-proof technology available through the power of the cloud.
  • Geofencing - Locance's Smart Zone technology allows operators to determine whether a device is within an authorized area with confidence based on the device location, its accuracy, boundary conditions, and local regulatory needs.

About Locance

Locance is the leader in geolocation compliance for gaming and lottery. We have helped global operators in the US, Canada and Europe to verify user transactions and get the "green light" to place wagers and enjoy their mobile gaming experience.

Learn how Locance helps with Internet Gaming Compliance and grab our Mobile Gaming Product Brief.

Find out how our customers get compliant with geolocation regulations. Read our Mobile Gaming White Paper.

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