Complete Guide to USA Casino Gambling

Gambling was taking place in America long before it was dubbed the United States. Native Americans enjoyed the art of the gamble, and settlers later brought in new games like cards and dice. From then to today, Americans enjoy the challenge and the risk-taking involved in the many forms of real money gambling available to them.

Our complete guide includes everything a United States gambling fan needs to know, including:

  • A simple, easy-to-understand guide to gambling legislation in the USA
  • The various options you'll find at online casinos and how to get the most out of them
  • Your all-important tax obligations so you stay on the right side of the IRS
  • And a glossary of gaming terms So you know how to speak the lingo

Legal Gambling in the United States

Legal US Gambling

Since the time that Native Americans gambled for food and necessities and bet on physical activities, gambling has been an integral part of United States history. It became a more prominent part of society when the British settled in America, bringing European games like cards and the idea of lotteries. Early cities and towns centered on saloons and gambling halls, and though the government didn't get involved for centuries, some states began to restrict activities. Some went underground, but other forms of gambling like lotteries prevailed throughout the years.

Many American states saw the revenue possibilities from legalizing casinos, lotteries, race tracks, and sports betting. Though the federal government has struggled for many years to combat underground games while letting the states make their own laws, it wasn't until the prevalence of online gambling that the United States took bigger steps to outlaw those types of games offered by offshore companies. These included all the popular online casino games like video poker, roulette, blackjack, slots, craps and baccarat, Today, states again are taking the issue into their own hands and beginning to legalize games that the federal government has yet to embrace.

What were the first gambling laws enacted?

Nevada took the reins to legalize most forms of gambling in 1931, and though New Jersey didn't follow until 1977, the decades that followed saw many land-based casinos built in states across America. And in 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allowed tribes to offer gaming on their reservations in order to generate revenue. Meanwhile, the Federal Wire Act of 1961 prohibited wagering on sports between states.

Brief history of gambling in the United States

Gambling has always been popular and has a long history in North America and the United States. Native Americans enjoyed different games of chance and first settlers brought card and dice games from Europe to North America.

Gambling was at first concentrated in New Orleans and the areas around the Mississippi. During the Gold Rush era, San Francisco became the center of American gambling, but gambling was outlawed again at the beginning of the 20th century. In the years to follow, lotteries and gambling activities became part of the activities of the criminal underworld and were run by the mafia and other organizations before and during Prohibition.

The first state to legalize gambling was Nevada in 1931. During the 1950s, Las Vegas developed into the gambling capital of the United States and over time, organized crime was driven out of Vegas.

In 1977, gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which became a major tourist destination. Shortly afterwards, the first reservation-based gambling institutions were set up by Native Americans. These became increasingly popular and in 1988 the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act gave tribes permission to run gambling establishments on their reservations.

More and more states recognized the earning potential from gambling and in the year 2015, there are many brick and mortar casinos all over the United States. Further down in this article, you can find out how many states you can legally gamble in.

What laws apply to modern-day gambling in the United States?

Online casinos have become increasingly popular over the last two decades. People enjoy playing in the comfort of their own homes without the need to travel, but the US government has tried to prohibit online gambling from the start. In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed which led to several international internet casino providers pulling out of the US market.

But things got even worse with Black Friday in 2011 when several of the biggest players in the industry, such as PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, were indicted on charges relating to violation of the UIGEA. This led to the majority of international online casino operators leaving the US market.

However, Americans were still interested in online gambling and states were interested in the revenue from gambling. Nevada was the first US state to legalize online poker in 2012 and Delaware legalized all forms of internet gambling shortly after. New Jersey followed in the fall of 2013 and many other states are now considering their options.

Minimum Legal Gambling Age by State

State Cities Minimum Age
Alabama Montgomery, Wetumpka, Atmore 21
Alaska Atka, Barrow, Juneau, Kake, Klawock, Metlakatla, Sitka 18
Arizona San Carlos, Parker, Prescott, Scottsdale, Tucson, Camp Verde, Somerton, Flagstaff, Payson, Fort McDowell, Chandler, Laveen, Maricopa, Pinetop 21
Arkansas Hot Springs, West Memphis 18 for pari-mutuel wagering

21 for slots
California Petaluma, Clovis, Rancho Mirage, San Bruno, Bakersfield, Lakeside, San Jose, Loleta, Willitis, Bell Gardens, Tuolumne, Cameron Park, BlueLake, Oceano, Blythe, Brooks, Anza, Pacheco, Stockton, Sacramento, Redding, Marysville, Pauma Valley, Manteca, Grover Beach, Paso Robles,Watsonville, Trinidad, Jamestown, Coursegold, Santa Ynez, Cudahy, Fresno, San Rafael, Colusa, Commerce, Tracy, Compton, Adelanto, Alturas,Auburn, Rosamond, Susanville, Rancho Cordova, Porterville, Woodlake, Crescent City, Modesto, Indio, Oroville, Gilroy, Visalia, GrassValley, Campo, Rohnert Park, Valley Center, Havasu Lake, Hawaiian Garden, Inglewood, Isleton, Gardena, Jackson, Guadalupe, Jamul, Antioch,Eureka, Finley, Woodlake, Pauma Valley, Boulevard, Folsom, Lake Elsinore, Livermore, Smith River, Hoopa, Colma, Citrus Heights, Marina, SanDiego, Merced, Oakdale, Porterville, Auberry, Cabazon, American Canyon, Everyville, Ridgecrest, Oceanside, Santa Cruz, Cayucos, Atascadero,Bishop, Pala, Hayward, Benicia, Temecula, Burney, Ventura, Salton City, Laytonville, Shingle Springs, Geyserville, Nice, Corning, Lemoore,Downieville, Highland, Santa Ysabel, Redwood Valley, Hopland, San Jacinto, Palm Springs, Coachella, El Cajon, Friant, Lincoln, El Centro,Turlock, Middletown, Soledad, Alpine, Chula Vista, Lodi 18 at some casinos

21 at others
Colorado Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, Central City, Ignacio, Towaok 21
Connecticut Ledyard, Montville 18 for bingo

21 for casino games
Delaware Wilmington, Dover, Harrington 18 for horse racing

21 for slots
Florida Miami Gardens, Miami, Gretna, Dania Beach, Daytona Beach, St. Petersburg, Ebro, Fort Pierce, Hallandale Beach, Jasper, Hialeah, OrangePark, Monticello, Melbourne, Bonita Springs, Ocala, West Palm Beach, Pensacola, Pompano Beach, Sarasota, Clewiston, Okeechobee, Immokalee,Coconut Creek, Hollywood, Tampa, Cape Canaveral, Jacksonville 18 for bingo, poker or pari-mutuels

21 for slots
Idaho Worley, Lewiston, Fort Hall, Kamiah, Bonners Ferry 18
Illinois East St. Louis, Joliet, Metropolis, Aurora, Elgin, Alton, Des Plaines, East Peoria, Rock Island 21
Indiana East Chicago, Florence, Michigan City, French Lick, Lawrenceburg, Anderson, Elizabeth, Hammond, Shelbyville, Gary, Rising Sun, Evansville 18 for pari-mutuel

21 for gambling
Iowa Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Onawa, Burlington, Dubuque, Northwood, Larchwood, Bettendorf, Marquette, Davenport, Waterloo, Toledo, Altoona, Riverside, Osceola, Clinton, Emmettsburg, Sloan 21
Kansas Dodge City, White Cloud, Horton, Kansas City, Mulvane, Mayetta, Powhattan 21
Louisiana Amilia, Baton Rouge, Bossier City, Harvey, Kinder, Marksville, Charenton, Vinton, Shreveport, Opelousas, New Orleans, West Lake, Dry Prong,Lake Charles, Kenner 18 for pari-mutuel

21 for gambling
Maine Bangor, Oxford 18 for pari-mutuel

21 for slots
Maryland Flintstone, Baltimore, Perryville, Hanover, Berlin, National Harbor 18 for pari-mutuel

21 for casinos
Michigan Brimley, Harris, Battle Creek, New Buffalo, Hartford, Dowagiak, Detroit, Wayland, Bark River, Christmas, Hessel, Manistique, Sault SainteMarie, St. Igaz, Brimley, Watersmeet, Suttons Bay, Manitee, Petoskey, Marquette, Baraga, Standish, Mt. Pleasant, Williamsburg 21
Minnesota Carlton, Shakopee, Duluth, Tower, Hinckley, Onamia, Grand Portage, Morton, Prior Lake, Walker, Cass Lake, Granite Falls, Columbus, RedLake, Thief River Falls, Warroad, Mahnomen, Red Wing, Deer River 18
Mississippi Vicksburg, Tunica Resorts, Biloxi, Sandersville, Gulfport, Choctaw, Greenville, Bay St. Louis, Natchez 21
Missouri St. Charles, Kansas City, Riverside North Kansas City, Maryland Heights, Cape Girardeau, Boonville, Caruthersville, La Grange, St. Louis,St. Joseph 21
Nevada Laughlin, Paradise, Reno, Las Vegas, Sparks, Henderson, Elko, Stateline, Carson City, Fallon, Verdi, Sunrise Manor, Primm, Crystal Bay,North Las Vegas, Minden, Mesquite, Yerington, Winchester, Virginia City, Dayton, Hawthorne, Jean, outside Boulder City, Ely, InclineVillage, Indian Springs, Amargosa Valley, West Wendover, Pahrump, Eureka, Winnemucca, Summerlin, Spring Creek, Searchlight, Enterprise,Beatty, Gardnerville, Tonopah, Topaz Lake 21
New Jersey Atlantic City 21
New Mexico Cuba, San Juan Pueblo, Espaniola, Pojoaque Publo, Tesuque Pueblo, Mescalero, Casa Blance, Albuquerque, Church Rock, Isleta Pueblo, SantaFe, Fruitland, Laguna Pueblo, Isleta, Ruidoso, San Felipa, Sandia Publo, Santa Ana Publo, Acoma, Farmington, Sunland Park, Taos, Dulce, Hobbs 18 for bingo and pari-mutuel

21 for casinos
New York Batavia, Yonkers, Hamburg, Farmington, Union Springs, Akwesasne, Monticello, Ozone Park, Saratoga Springs, Salamanca, Buffalo, Irving,Niagara Falls, Nichols, Verona, Vernon 18 or 21 (depends on the casino)
North Carolina Cherokee 21
Ohio Anderson Township, Northfield, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton, Austintown, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Turtlecreek Township, North Randall 18 for pari-mutuel

21 for casinos
Oklahoma Ada, Miami, Claremore, Sulphur, Fort Gibson, Roland, Sallisaw, Tahlequah, West Siloam Springs, Duncan, Durant, Broken Bow, Grant, Idabel,McAlester, Pocola, Stringtown, Dewol, Eufaula, Okmulgee, Wyanbdotte, Shawnee, Ardmore, Grove, Catoosa, Harrah, Clinton, Consho, Madill,Muscogee, Newcastle, Bartlesville, Hominy, Pawhuska, Ponca City, Sand Springs, Tulsa, Wetumpka, Oklahoma City, Norman, Chickasha, Davis,Paoli, Thackerville 18 or 21 (depends on the casino)
Oregon Lincoln City, Cascade Locks, Warm Springs, Chiloquin, North Bend, Burns, Canyonville, Grand Ronde, Florence, Pendleville 18 for bingo

21 for casinos
Pennsylvania Chester, Farmington, North Strabane Township, Plains Township, Mount Pocono, Bensalem, Grantville, Erie, Pittsburgh, Bethlehem,Philadelphia, Upper Merion Township 18 for pari-mutuel

21 for casinos
South Dakota Deadwood 18 for bingo at Indian casinos

21 for casinos
Texas Eagle Pass 21
Washington Sequim, Arlington, Snoqualmie, Chewelah, Suqamish, Wenatchee, Shoreline, Coulee Dam, Kennewich, Mountlake Terrace, Pasco, Port Angeles,Auburn, Fife, Tukwila, Richland, Clarkston, Toppenish, Shelton, Potlatch, Rochester, Seattle, Manson, Pullman, La Center, Yelm, Yakima,Lynden, Deming, Airway Heights, Okanogan, Ocean Shores, Everett, Tokeland, Mill Creek, Renton, Sea Tac, Ferndale, Bow, Anacortes, Kingston,Marysville, Tulalip, Davenport, Ellensburg 18 for pari-mutuel

18 or 21 for casinos
West Virginia Greenbrier, Charles Town, Cross Lanes, Chester, Wheeling 21
Wisconsin Odanah, Hayward, Black River Falls, Madison, Nekoosa, Tomah, Baraboo, Wittenberg, Danbury, Green Bay, Bayfield, Lad du Flambeau, Webster,Keshena, Bowler, Mole Lake, Milwaukee, Carter, Turtle Lake 18 for bingo

21 for casinos
Wyoming Riverton, Ethete, Fort Wahakee 18

Please note: Please check with the individual casinos in the location of your choice on what games they offer.

If you have ever wondered what states you can gamble in at 18, you now have the answers in the above table. In most states, you have to be either 18 or 21 to gamble, but there are some states where this depends on the casinos themselves as Native American casinos enjoy a special status.

States that allow gambling for 18-year-olds are:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Minnesota
  • Wyoming

States that allow some forms of gambling for 18-year-olds (usually pari-mutuel and bingo) are:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

The biggest brick and mortar casino in the USA is currently the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut.

Land Based Casino Finder

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Player Stats & Info

Who regulates the American gaming industry?

There is little federal regulation of gambling, with the exception of tribal gaming, which is authorized by the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. States are left to regulate their own gaming entities, and most states have established gaming commissions or lottery boards to oversee the gaming activities in the state.

Online casino and poker players in the United States have little to fear, as their activities have not been labeled as criminal by the US government. There is no law against playing games online. However, their options for international online casinos have become quite limited after federal crackdowns on those companies. The online casinos and online poker sites available to US customers are limited, and some of them don't have positive reputations for paying customer balances in a timely fashion. Players should be cautious of which sites to choose at this point in time because of the danger of not receiving their winnings for weeks, months, or longer.

Some American states, however, like New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, are currently in the process of setting up their state-wide online poker and USA casino sites. Those should boast of the utmost safety for players in those states, and there should be no concerns about payments or security with the strict state oversight that is being put into place during the development stage. Most sites should be available to players sometime in the very near future.

How many Americans gamble regularly?

A 2005 study showed that 85% of adults in the United States gambled at least once in their lives, and 80% of them had gambled in the past year. Online gambling has grown quite a lot since that time. In 2007, according to a Topline Findings report, 23 million Americans played poker regularly, and 15 million of them played online for real money. Of those, 7 million of them played online poker for real money at least once per month. The numbers have fallen since US government crackdowns in the past few years.

Are Americans allowed to play on international online casinos?

There are no laws denying players the right to play online, but international online casino sites could be in danger of prosecution for allowing players on to their sites when real money is at stake. While the US laws are somewhat ambiguous, the federal government has not been shy about defending those laws and using them to try to keep international Internet companies out of the US market.

Can I legally deposit and withdraw money to online casinos?

Yes. While most American banks will not process transactions for online casinos, there are numerous payment processors who will facilitate deposits and withdrawals. Players have been transferring money to and from online casinos throughout all of the changes in United States laws in the past decade.

Do I have to pay taxes on my iGaming winnings?

Yes. 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 pertains to online casino winnings, no matter where the Internet gambling company is based. Players can often deduct losses to offset the amount of tax owed, but a tax specialist should help with that decision. In addition, state taxes vary in America, so someone familiar with the state in question should address the issues of state gambling taxes.

Do online casinos offer play in USD?

Yes. Most international online casinos and poker sites operate in United States dollars because it is a globally recognized currency. Players can deposit and withdraw in dollars from any online gaming site, and they can play in that currency as well, viewing their cashier page and all financial transactions in United States dollars.

How old do you have to be to gamble online?

The age limit to gamble in online casinos corresponds to the age limit for brick and mortar casinos, i.e.:

  • Delaware - 21
  • Nevada - 21
  • New Jersey - 21

Secure Online Play for Americans in the United States

Secure Play

The laws surrounding online gaming for Americans present certain challenges. The most reputable international gaming sites have withdrawn from the United States market as a result of those laws and no longer offer an option to American players. Other sites do take their chances to get American business and offer Internet casino games, but players should do some research on those sites before trusting them with funds.

Players can check the trustworthiness of a company by checking the gaming license and looking for symbols from oversight organizations like eCOGRA, which indicates regular audits of the company. Until the laws change in America, players should be cautious when signing up to play on any online casino for real money.

How do Americans know that their funds are safe?

Players in the United States concerned about funds on an international online casino or poker site should look for proper licensing and a symbol from eCOGRA. That symbol represents the approval of the international oversight organization that conducts regular audits and ensures that the site is operating fairly and ensuring the safety and security of players.

Is play fair on the online casinos?

Most online casinos that cater to American players 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. Players should verify that these are used, as most sites will display that information or make it available through their customer service representatives.

Does a player have recourse if they suspect unfair activity?

Yes. Players can always report a site or players on a site to the company that holds the online casino license. Americans don't have recourse with the United States government because of its refusal to regulate as of yet, but the licensing institution, along with any oversight organization like eCOGRA, will be responsible and look into any concerns about unfair activity.

Depositing and cashing out in online casinos

The online casinos we are introducing to you on this site offer many different payment options. However, many Americans may find it difficult to use their credit cards or e-wallets like PayPal for paying on international online casino sites because of the complicated US gambling legislation. You may have to check on the pages of the casino online of your choice, but generally US players can use the following deposit methods in online casinos:

  • Prepaid cards, such as Ukash
  • Western Union

With regard to cashing out your winnings, you need to check with the internet casino you want to use which method is best for US players. The time for withdrawals can also vary, so please check out the T & C on the casino site to avoid disappointment.

Playing in online casinos should become less of a hassle for Americans as more states legalize online gambling in the near future.

Parimutuel Explained

Parimutuel betting is a type of wagering where the final payout is determined after all bets are made. That differs from fixed odds betting where you know the payout when you place your bet.

Perimutuel betting is popular in a lot of US states where gambling is not legal. You'll often find parimutuel betting at off-track facilities. These are places where you can bet on an event without actually being physically present at the location where the event is unfolding.

When you bet on horses, you're taking part in parimutuel betting. All bets are pooled together and the house takes its fee. Once betting closes, the payouts on the outcome are finalized based on how much money is in the pool and the results of the event.

With parimutuel betting (and horserace betting in particular) you'll see odds posted for each wager. But the odds are indicative of the popularity of the horse relative to others.

Responsible Gaming for Americans

Responsible Gambling

Americans have many resources for responsible gaming and problem gambling. The National Center for Responsible Gaming is dedicated to researching the subject and promotion education and awareness Help can be found there, as well as through Gamblers Anonymous,

Those with problems, or those concerned about a friend or family member with a problem or addiction, are free to use the search engine to find open or closed meetings located in every state around America.

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