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Originally, many websites offered US citizens gambling facilities online, but authorities cited the Wire Act of 1971 – which dictates interstate telephone betting is illegal – in challenging the legality of online gambling and a 2006 law, called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, it was aimed to clear up the confusion, but the problem somewhat worsened due to the fact it doesn’t specifically cite online gambling illegal. Instead, it makes it a federal offence for banks, and other financial companies to process transactions between US residents, and gambling operators.

After this law came into force, many gambling operators took this to mean gambling was illegal in the United States; this isn’t the case, but nonetheless, most of these websites no longer accepted US players, due to fears over legal ramifications, no matter where they were based. There are, however, a large number of casino sites that do accept US players, under the premise that offering gambling services to US players – an American players using such services – isn’t a crime. Which is true – it’s just that the USA doesn’t regulate operators.

Gambling Laws within the United States of America

There are three federal laws that apply to gambling, with an emphasis on online gambling, and the first of these is the Interstate Wire Act. This Act makes it illegal to wager, or place bets through a ‘wire communication facility’. This Act doesn’t apply to online gambling, aside from Sports betting online, which IS illegal – Americans are committing a crime if they place sports bets online.

The second law is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and this is the Act that many Americans view as unnecessary, and over-the-top. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act basically acts as a measure to prevent against gambling having an impact on sports, and the Government often use the act to try and shut down land-based Sports Betting venues; however, a number of States have ignored the rule, with State legal experts citing the constitution in their legal arguments.

More importantly of the three, is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA for short). Passed in 2006, this new bill was brought in to try to outlaw online gambling, and the core of the law went along the lines of: ‘if players can’t send or receive money to/from gambling websites, they can’t gamble’. Many Americans are now under the impression this law makes it illegal to gamble online, but this isn’t in fact the case; it is perfectly legal to do so, just not to send or receive money from US-based gambling websites.

Casinos That Accept US Players

While you won’t find any US-based casinos that operate online, there’s a large number of companies that offer American players the ability to gamble online, and while they aren’t licensed by the US authorities, reputable and respected names do take US players. Some of the most well-known casinos taking US players include Club World, Aladdin’s Gold Casino, All Star Slots, Lucky Red Casino, High Noon casino, Casino Extreme, and Golden Euro Casino. Due to UK Gambling Commission regulations, you don’t find any UK-licensed casinos accepting US players (it’s a part of their licensing agreement), but all the casinos listed above are licensed by either the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, or other respected gambling authorities.

Note: As casinos aren’t regulated within the United States, US players that experience problems gaming online won’t be able to take their complaints to an enforceable regulator within the US. The license body that regulates the casino might be able to help, but it’s certainly fair to say that US players have less protection when gaming offshore. For this reason, it’s vital US residents only gamble at reputable casinos that have a track record of treating their players fairly.

Software and Games

American players used to have one of the smallest game ranges available, and while today, it’s not as broad as European players’ range, American players have far more choice when it comes to online casino games. While you don’t find any of the world’s bigger software developer names inside this guide (Microgaming, Net Entertainment, Play ‘N Go etc. don’t allow US players), you will find information on some of the more reputable game providers allowing access to US players.

  • RTG (RealTime Gaming) – are by far the top software provider offering games to US residents, and the provider offers most casino-table game variations, as well as over 50 Video Slot titles for players to enjoy. They offer games in both ‘instant play’ and downloadable, and have begun expanding their games for mobile players.
  • BetOnSoft – A fairly new game provider, BetOnSoft already have an impressive game-range, boasting over 60 different games in their collection. They offer all classic casino games, including Blackjack, Roulette, 3 Card Poker, and Casino Hold’ Em, as well as a decent selection of Video Slot titles. There are also Video Poker games on offer.
  • Rival – Rival are the gaming provider that offer the widest selection of games to US players, featuring over 150 different titles, from conventional casino classics such as Roulette and Blackjack, and a wide array of Video Slot titles.

Taxation on Winnings

US players are subject to paying tax on their winnings, and it’s important you keep a close track of your deposits and withdrawals, so you can make the correct financial declarations. In general, it’s best to use a local tax advisor to avoid making mistakes on your tax returns that could cost you severely.

Conclusion

It’s natural for confusion for erupt due to the US’s strange, and un-precise gambling laws. Many US bodies often try and spin the impression that online gambling is illegal – although under federal law, this simply isn’t the case. American players are well within their rights to use offshore casinos that accept US players, and while the legislation is – questionable to say the least – certain states are bringing about their own laws, so always ensure you play within the law of the state you reside in.

Remember, Sports Betting online is illegal no matter what state you live in, and as always, ensuring you game with a reputable online casino that has a proven track record in ensuring its players are looked after.

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Disclaimer: Please note that the legality of gambling online varies between countries and it is your responsibility to verify that your actions are legal in the country you reside. Please play responsibly - if you feel you may have a problem and need advice please visit Gamble Aware (UK) or Gamblers Anonymous.