Best Online Casinos in the United States
Legal gambling ages vary across the United States, with states setting the age-limit minimum at either 18 or 21. However, this can depend on the type of gambling and whether you’re playing at a Native American casino.
Americans absolutely love gambling, and you’ll find land-based casinos in almost every state. Blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, and slots are among the most popular games at casinos in the USA.
The same is true for online gambling, as Americans spend billions of dollars every year playing online casino games at government-run and offshore casino sites.
US casinos have an entire city essentially built around them in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, where almost the entire state’s economy relies on revenue from that particular source of income. Millions of people visit Las Vegas each year with the intention of gambling, and the city is famed for its casinos.
In addition, the Las Vegas-based company, MGM Resorts, was the leading casino company in the world by revenue.
Gambling Across the US
A recent study showed that 85% of adults in the United States gambled at least once in their lives, and 80% of them gambled in the past year.
The exact number of people gambling in the US is hard to ascertain, but considering that gambling is estimated to be a $250 billion annual industry, supporting 1.8 million jobs nationwide, it is no exaggeration to say that gambling in the USA is a key economic driver.
Way back in 2007, a Topline findings report found that 23 million Americans played poker regularly, and 15 million of them played online for real money. The number of Americans gambling real money on casino games online is estimated to be much larger.
Like all gambling in the USA, the laws around online gambling vary from state to state.
The United States government requires a 25% tax on gambling winnings that exceed $600 at a horse track, $1,200 at a slot machine or bingo game, $1,500 in keno, and $5,000 in poker tournaments.
The same rules apply to online casino winnings, no matter where the internet gambling company is based. Players can deduct losses to offset the amount of tax owed, but a tax specialist is recommended. State taxes are different in each state.
Online gambling in the US is primarily composed of poker, casino games, and sports betting.
In 2018, sports betting was legalised in the United States at the federal level. However, each state has control over its own regulations, and each state approaches the legalisation of online gambling differently. For this reason, it can be difficult to provide an accurate overview of online gambling for the country as a whole.
Along with the legalisation of sports betting came the rise of the online betting market. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the most popular form of online gambling in the US, as of September 2021, is sports betting. The second most popular type of online gambling was the lottery draw.
Approximately half of the states have legalised or regulated online gambling in some form or another as of 2022, and more states are expected to expand their access to online gambling in the near future.
Almost 10% of US adults who bet on online and in-person casino games did so at least once a week, according to a study conducted in September 2021. That same year, the size of the online gambling market in the USA reached $9.5 billion.
Trends such as mobile casino games, cryptocurrency gambling, and virtual reality (VR) casinos are looking to redirect and shape the future of the gambling industry, both in the USA and in other markets around the world.
USA Gambling Laws and Regulations
United States gambling at casinos is heavily regulated, meaning all casinos and sportsbooks are subject to much oversight, rules, and regular audits. Casinos are required by law to protect their customers’ money and honour winning bets.
Players in the USA who are concerned about playing at an international online casino or poker site should look for the relevant licensing and a symbol from eCOGRA when choosing a site to play at.
The eCOGRA symbol represents the approval of a major international oversight organisation that conducts regular audits and ensures that the site is operating fairly and protecting the safety and security of players.
The best online casinos, whether local or international, that cater to US gambling customers use random number generators to ensure fair play. They also use encryption software to make sure that all player information is secure within the site.
If unfair activity is suspected at land-based casinos, the possible avenues for redress are reporting it directly to casino security or considering the option of contacting the state gaming commission that oversees the casino you’re visiting.
Online gamblers can always report a site or other players on a site to the company that holds the online casino license. Regarding offshore casinos, the American government would not be able to take any action as they don’t regulate these operators. The relevant licensing institution, along with any oversight organisation like eCOGRA, would, however, be the responsible body for looking into concerns regarding unfair activity.
Laws and Restrictions
While gambling is legal under US federal law, there are significant restrictions pertaining to interstate and online gambling, as each state is free to regulate or prohibit the practice within its borders.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Act of 1992 effectively outlawed sports betting nationwide, excluding a few states. However, on May 14th, 2018, the United States Supreme Court declared the entire law unconstitutional.
If state-run lotteries are included, then 48 states allow some form of gambling; however, casino-style gambling is much less widespread.
Federal law provides leeway for Native American Trust land to be used for gambling purposes if an agreement is reached between the state and the tribal government under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.
As of 2020, Nevada and Louisiana are the only two states in which casino-style gambling is legal statewide.
Online gambling has been more strictly regulated; the Federal Wire Act of 1961 outlawed interstate wagering on sports but did not address other forms of gambling and has been the subject of court cases.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006 (UIGEA) did not specifically prohibit online gambling; instead, it outlawed financial service transactions involving online gambling service providers – some offshore gambling providers responded by shutting down services for US customers.
Other offshore operators have continued to circumvent UIGEA and continued servicing US customers, resulting in much criticism of the Act.
History of Gambling in the United States
American gaming laws are heavily influenced by the history of gambling itself. Games of chance first came to the American colonies with the first settlers, and there were no large-scale restrictions at the time, and for many years, the colonies used lotteries to raise revenues.
Lotteries were used to establish or improve many universities or secondary schools during the 18th and 19th centuries.
A 1769 restriction on lotteries by the British crown became one of the many simmering issues between the colonies and England prior to the American Revolution.
As America grew, gambling spread and diversified, and privately owned gambling businesses slowly developed in various communities.
The lower Mississippi River valley became a hotbed of gambling activity, and New Orleans became the nation’s leading gambling centre. The famous Mississippi River boats became all the rage in the mid-19th century.
The California gold rush caused San Francisco to become a popular gambling city as New Orleans began its gaming decline. Post-Civil War reconstruction saw a brief return of lotteries and other forms of gaming to raise revenues, but by the beginning of the 20th century, it was once again almost universally outlawed across the US.
Illegal gambling operations grew, and during Prohibition, illegal gambling outlets were a preferred stream of revenue for organised crime. Major gangland figures became wealthy from illegal casinos and speakeasies.
The stock market crash of 1929 and the Hoover Dam project led to the full legalisation of gambling in Nevada as a way to raise revenue for the state.
Gaming laws once again became more restrictive after World War 2, but the town of Las Vegas rapidly grew in the 1950s, quickly surpassing the popularity of illegal gambling empires such as Galveston. During the 1960s, the casino industry in Nevada exploded as legitimate investors like Howard Hughes recognised the huge profit potential of gambling operations.
In response to Nevada’s success, New Jersey legalised gambling in 1977 in Atlantic City, enabling the city to rapidly grow into a major tourist destination from a run-down slum.
In 1979, the Seminole tribe opened the first reservation-based commercial gambling operation, beginning a trend that would be followed by other reservations.
Gradually, lotteries and other types of parimutuel betting were legalised across the country.
In the 1990s, riverboat casinos were legalised in Louisiana, Illinois, and other states. In 1996, Michigan legalised gambling in the city of Detroit, creating an economic centre for potential casino growth.
As the internet grew in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, online gambling exploded in popularity, but it is not yet available in all states. Currently, online casinos are only legal in Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Online poker is allowed in Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.
Types of Gambling in the USA
Betting is hugely popular in the United States, and there are many types of gambling to choose from if you’re seeking the thrill of the wager or great entertainment value. These are some of the most popular types of gambling available in the USA:
Online Casino Gaming
Online casino gaming is extremely popular in the United States.
The many available platforms offer a wide variety of entertaining games, from hundreds of slots to table games like blackjack and roulette, as well as an impressive array of live casino games. Online casinos offer games that are not available at land-based casinos, such as virtual slots and video poker.
The rise of online casino gaming in the United States has been astronomical, and in recent years, more and more states have legalised online gambling, allowing players to enjoy their favourite casino games from the comfort of their own homes, whether on desktop or mobile devices.
Despite the stiff competition from online casinos, where most of them have casino slots that pay real money with no deposit, the number of land-based casinos continues to grow year-on-year in the US.
These land-based casinos have a variety of games and offer extensive entertainment options in addition to gambling, like fine restaurants, live performances, and world-class sporting events such as world title boxing and various other tournaments, which online casinos aren’t able to match.
Sports betting is the most popular form of gambling in the United States.
As professional and college sports have surged in popularity in the US, legal and illegal betting has risen too. Americans were betting $150 billion a year on sports every year when it was illegal outside of Nevada.
Although the figure is considered conservative, LegalSportsBetting.com estimates that a staggering $165 billion is bet legally in the US, resulting in gambling revenue of $44 billion in 2021.
In the past, horse racing was a popular form of gambling, with bettors flocking to the many local tracks across the US to place their bets.
However, the rise of online gambling and the proliferation of alternative forms of betting have led to a severe decline in interest in horse racing.
In a recent survey in the US of adults aged 18 and over, it was reported that lottery play was the most commonly played type of gambling by 66% of respondents.
Huge jackpots have become commonplace in the Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries in recent years because of changes to the games and higher ticket prices due in turn to their popularity.
Eight jackpots in the United States have reached $1 billion or more since 2016, including 5 in the past 2 years. The market size of the lotteries sector in the US reached a value of $94 billion in 2021, accounting for 80% of the global market size.
The global online poker market was worth around $86.2 billion in 2022 and is predicted to grow to around $237.5 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 13.5% between 2023 and 2030.
It is estimated that there are around 100 million registered real money online poker players across the globe, with over 60 million of them residing in the United States. This is indicative of the popularity of online poker in America.
Casino Bonuses in the United States
United States online casinos feature a variety of bonuses to entice players to play or to encourage existing account holders to return or play more often. Bonus features are highly popular to boost playing time and to increase the chances of winning without your bankroll being too adversely affected.
Here are some of the popular bonus offers to players at online casinos in the US:
- Welcome Bonuses – This is the most common type of bonus you will find across all online casino platforms. You will get a cash reward as soon as you sign up to boost your bankroll when you start your gaming session. Deposits are matched by anything up to 200%. Comparing casinos will help find easier wagering requirements.
- No Deposit Bonuses – You can get some cash to play with and try out a casino risk-free with no-deposit bonuses. These bonuses are the most popular as you receive them without spending your own money, and you can try out any game that catches your eye before choosing to deposit. Casinos offer different wagering options you can compare. Cash out your bonus once you’ve completed the set play.
- Monthly Bonuses and Promotions – See your loyalty rewarded with a monthly bonus. This bonus type has a variety of seasonal promotions throughout the year. Get both cash and prizes in return for regular play. Casinos will also reward you with VIP points.
- High Roller Bonuses – Big players get bonuses for making large deposits. You will get treated for loyalty to your casino of choice and playing often. You can work through the tier system for better player rewards. Qualify for exclusive bonus rewards to boost your bankroll. You may enjoy additional prizes like gadgets and even holidays.
- Game-Specific Bonuses – Casinos encourage you to play specific games with this bonus type. Enjoy some extra play on the latest new releases. Get other rewards like VIP points and the ever-popular Free Spins. Broaden your playing skills and your bankroll.
- Device-Specific Bonuses – Smartphone and tablet users get a reward for signing up. Casinos incentivise players who try their mobile games. There are specific bonuses for Android and iOS devices. There are bonus incentives for downloading a casino app.
Tip: Look for casinos with big sign-up bonuses and low wagering requirements to maximise the amount of real money you have to play.
Top US Payment Methods for Gambling
Credit and debit cards are among the most popular payment methods in the online gambling industry, as they are widely accepted and can be used for deposits and withdrawals.
E-wallets such as PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller are popular payment methods in the online gambling industry in the US, offering many of the same benefits as debit and credit cards, including safe, fast transactions that are secure with widespread acceptance.
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, have become increasingly popular as methods of payment in the online gaming industry, with advantages such as fast transactions, low fees, and increased security.
Safer Gambling Tools
Deposit limits, time-out sessions, cool-off periods, wagering limits, and even self-exclusion are all great tools for every user to manage their bankroll and keep the nature of online gaming or any other form of gambling fun and entertaining.
When used correctly, these tools can increase enjoyment and improve your relationship with gambling and help avoid developing a gambling addiction and suffering gambling harm.
The National Problem Gambling Helpline
This gambling hotline is available 24/7 and is fully confidential. It connects callers to local health and government organisations that can assist with problem gambling.
US Gambling FAQs
Is gambling a big problem in the US?
The research shows that between 1% and 2% of the US adult population, or 2 to 4 million adults, will experience a gambling disorder in their lifetime.
Where is gambling most popular in the US?
Casino gambling is most popular in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, with its 24-hour casinos and world-class entertainment.
What is the most popular type of online gambling in the US?
Approximately 32% of gamblers favour sports betting, and 31% participate in lottery draws in the USA.
How many states have legal online casinos in the US?
Online gambling is legal in six states: Delaware, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Which state has the biggest online gambling sector?
Currently, New Jersey has the biggest market for regulated online gambling in the United States.