Online gambling in the United States is a fairly complicated affair. Some states ban it altogether, while others are working on legalizing certain forms of the activity. The US is home to a number of licensed and regulated online casinos, and a significant portion of the world’s top casino websites are based in the country. However, the landscape is constantly changing as new laws are introduced and old ones overturned. It’s important to keep an eye on developments, so that you can know what to expect when playing in the various legal jurisdictions.
The rise of online gambling first gained momentum in the 1990s, with the World Wide Web offering an end-run around state and federal prohibition. Site operators could set up shop in friendly offshore jurisdictions and begin accepting wagers by credit card from players anywhere in the world. The popularity of online gambling quickly grew, and the industry was estimated to be worth more than $89 billion by 1998.
Despite the massive success of online gambling, the concept remains controversial. Many states have banned the activity, while others restrict it to specific types of gaming such as poker and blackjack. The US government has also tried to regulate the activity, but this has been met with resistance from the internet industry and the courts.
As the popularity of online gambling grew, states began to chip away at federal prohibitions. In particular, New Jersey became the first state to legalize the activity in 2013, with wagers being placed from within its borders shortly thereafter. This opened the door for other states to follow suit, with New York and Pennsylvania eventually approving iGaming products.
Some states are still in the process of regulating the activity, with California, Maryland, and Massachusetts all looking to introduce online gambling legislation in the near future. Meanwhile, other states are making headway in allowing it, with West Virginia and Vermont both launching online casinos in March of 2019. Maine is another state that’s weighing legalization efforts, but the Pine Tree State remains hesitant to allow iGaming at this time.
It took longer for iGaming to arrive in Pennsylvania than it did in New Jersey, but once it finally launched in October of 2017, it was a resounding success. More than a dozen safe, authorized sites now operate within the state, with many of its biggest brick-and-mortar casinos opening online extensions and even launching their own standalone brands. The next state on the horizon to launch is Virginia, which is expected to do so soon after the approval of online sports betting.