Gambling Regulations in the US



Across the US, gambling is regulated both at the state and federal levels. States are responsible for enforcing gambling prohibitions and licensing legal gambling operations. Federal laws, such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, prohibit internet gambling companies from accepting illegal wagers. The federal government also prosecutes multistate enterprises that violate state gambling laws. In some states, sports betting is legal, but only if the states that host the sporting event have authorized the activity. The federal government does not prosecute individuals who bet on sports, unless the activity violates federal law.

Most state lottery systems are the most common forms of legal gambling in the United States. In addition, Native American tribes operate tribal casinos. There are also land-based commercial casinos in six states. Other forms of legal gambling include charitable bingo raffles, racinos (racetracks that also offer gambling), and poker. Some forms of legal gambling are also illegal, including private poker, slot machines, and off-track betting. Typically, gambling is restricted to individuals over 18 years of age.

Some states have made giant leaps toward legalizing gambling. Illinois and California, for example, allow certain forms of gambling. New York State voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2013 that allowed gambling on Native American tribal lands and on up to seven commercial casinos. Other states have made major moves toward legalizing online casinos, including Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Many states have also taken a hard line stance against gambling. Some states, such as Idaho, have chosen to maintain the status quo. Others, such as West Virginia, have recently legalized online gambling.

New York State is one of the oldest gambling states. Its first gambling laws were introduced in the seventeenth century. Today, Nevada is regarded as the world’s gambling capital. Its state legislature recently approved online sports betting. The Pueblo tribe of Santa Ana, however, began offering sports betting without state legislation. Currently, 15 jurisdictions have authorized sports betting, with a few more expected to be added in the near future.

Most states regulate gambling by licensing the operations of legal gambling enterprises, requiring the companies to have a license, and requiring the companies to keep a self-exclusion list. Licensees are required to refuse service to individuals on self-exclusion lists. Usually, the licensee must have a passive ownership structure. Institutional owners, who are usually limited to 10 percent of the company, are exempted from the licensing requirements. However, institutional owners are subject to the oversight of the gambling authority.

New Jersey has legal online casinos, and many New Yorkers have started using the sites to place bets. The state also has a number of tribal casinos that allow for card rooms and horse racing wagers.