Are online slots legal in the US?

The United States online gambling sector is growing pretty quickly. In fact, according to the American Finance Institute, the industry is set to reach $92.9 billion (£67.2 billion) by 2023, growing at over 11% a year.

Playing online slots when in the United States is a fairly complicated issue, however. Much more so than here in the UK – click to visit.

The Wire Act of 1961 was a piece of legislation set up to work with antiracketeering laws (laws intended to eradicate organised crime by establishing strong sanctions and forfeiture provisions). However, these laws were drawn up before the internet existed and are no longer applicable for the digital age in which we live now.

Therefore, as recently as 2011, the Depart of Justice allowed each state to pass its own legislation regarding online gambling.

Online betting on a state level

Playing online slots in the USA today is legal on a federal level. What muddies the waters, however, is that each state has the right to regulate it differently.

Many states with the US argue about what constitutes gambling, and as a result, sporting events, games of chance, and games of skill are all categorised differently.

As of today, twenty states allow residents to wager on sporting events via the internet, but in contrast, far fewer states are as liberal when it comes to online casinos.

States that do permit online gambling

There are some progressive states within the USA that are more tolerant towards internet gambling.

  •       New Jersey
  •       Pennsylvania
  •       Michigan
  •       Delaware
  •       West Virginia
  •       Nevada

States that are in the process of legalising online gambling

There are currently six further states that are in the process of legalising online betting, whilst to date, there are another 22 that have submitted legislation to pass, hoping to do the same.

These states are:

  •       California
  •       Connecticut
  •       Indiana
  •       Illinois
  •       Massachusetts
  •       New York

States where online gambling is prohibited

Although gambling in some form is legal in 48 of the 50 states across the US, there are still two states where it is strictly forbidden.

It is perhaps no surprise to see that Utah bans gambling in any form right across the state. This is because there is a very large and conservative Mormon population in Salt Lake City and the surrounding area, meaning religion is a factor.

Also, Hawaii bans gambling too, less for religious reasons and more for traditional cultural reasons. Hawaii was only made a state in 1959, and there are still many first generation American Hawaiians who would not feel comfortable accepting gambling into the culture of their islands. Whether this will change as time progresses remains to be seen.

The times they are a-changing…or are they?

Although still a financial and cultural global superpower, it’s sometimes easy to forget that large swathes of the US are extremely conservative, even counter-progressive in many people’s opinion.

Although the signs are there that more and more states will slowly succumb to more liberal gambling laws and online betting legislation, conservative religious values, especially in the South, still prevail.

Southern and mid-Western states like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia all discourage online gambling, and have no real inclination to widen their legal framework to relax laws any time soon.