Gambling laws in the United States have seemingly been in a state of flux since the dawn of time and this can cause confusion for players that wish to gamble within the US. Fortunately, you have us at your disposal to offer some clarity on the constant-changing landscape of gambling legislation in the land of the free.

The Beginnings

Games of chance have been floating around in American society ever since the 18th century when the first settlers brought their games to the Americas. The first instance of gambling laws being introduced can be traced back to 1769 when it is believed the British crown placed restrictions on the use of lotteries which added to growing tensions between the colonials and the British in the lead up to the War of Independence.

The popularity of gambling grew with New Orleans becoming the main focal point for gamblers. However, by the turn of the 19th century there had been a growing discontent against gambling due to its alleged negative impacts on society and gambling was forced offshore onto riverboat casinos on the Mississippi River and was restricted to being played widely in the younger states across the US that were located further West. 

Riverboat Casinos played a huge role in the evolution of US gambling

A combination of anti-gambling groups and the evolution of the railroad system across the US saw the Mississippi River and riverboat casinos hit a decline in player numbers. By the 1850s, the California Gold Rush saw attention turn to San Francisco where prospectors flocked to and saw it become the country’s new gambling capital.

However, by the arrival of the 20th century, pressures from groups to see gambling legally reformed meant it became heavily outlawed across the country despite once being prevalent across the frontier in particular. This triggered the rise of a number of organised crime groups and the mafia who set up illegal gambling operations. This developed a life of its own during the Prohibition Era.

The Great Depression soon saw a number of forms of gambling legalised as the US government tried to find new ways to spark new life into the economy. Unfortunately, many forms of gambling remained illegal and this helped gangsters to continue to benefit lucratively from their gambling operations.

Vegas, Baby!

In 1931, Nevada introduced Assembly Bill 98 which legalised most forms of gambling and provided the US government with a fresh stream of revenue. This was the first step in the creation of the gambling paradise that is now Las Vegas. As gambling laws in other US states tightened down after World War II, Nevada remained the place that appealed to players and investors alike. It also became a breeding ground for crime and corruption as gangsters such as the infamous Bugsy Siegel set up their own casinos to earn huge profits.

The Las Vegas Strip has become a centre for gambling in the US

The 1961 Wire Act

The Interstate Wire Act of 1961 became a huge turning point for gambling in the US. It prohibited the operation of certain types of gambling within the US and its introduction has ensured that sports betting remains outlawed in many states to this present day. The aftershocks of that bill are still being felt in modern America today. A law passed by Congress in 1992 made sports betting legal in Nevada but it still remains illegal across most of the US. 

Over the following 50 years, gambling laws in the US would consistently be changed, edited, re-evaluated, and amended. It led to a lot of confusion and states across the US holding different stances on the legalities of gambling. For example, in states such as Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Nevada it is illegal to operate lotteries where as it is legal to operate lotteries in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, and Maryland. Another example is racetrack betting which is outlawed in 29 states across the US but legal in the other 21 states.

In the 1990s, the riverboat casinos enjoyed a revival with Illinois, Louisana, and a number of other US states legalising gambling on the waters within their state boundaries. Michigan also took a huge step against the US government by legalising gambling within the city centre district of Detroit.

The 2006 UIGEA Law

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 did not help to add any clarity to the gambling laws in the US. It was introduced with the aim of making online gambling within the US illegal by outlawing financial transactions that include online gambling service providers within the US. However, the law has been abused by individuals via setting up offshore operations leading to the law receiving large levels of criticism for its ineffectiveness in achieving its aims. 

The Game Changer

In 2011, the US Department of Justice finally reversed its stance regarding the 1961 Wire Act stating that it only applied to online sports betting. This opened the doors for operations such as online poker, fantasy sports leagues, and real money casino gaming in one of the biggest legal changes for gambling in the US.

Recent years have seen a number of states such as New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada legalise online gambling so that land-based casinos within the state can offer online operations to boost their revenues and take advantage of the rising popularity in online gambling across the world. Momentum is now growing for the US government to consider legal changes on a federal level concerning gambling.

With online casino and gambling available many sites have now hit the market to try and get new players enjoying games like poker, baccarat, blackjack and slots. But there are still some blacklisted sites where the public of the USA should stay away from. That is why it is great for the public to use casino resources like Casino.org – from there you can check out what sites are safe to play on and which ones you must avoid to stay secure online.

What Does The Future Hold?

The future of gambling in the US appears to be heading for a brighter destination. The US Presidential race is set to be contested by the Democratic candidate of Hillary Clinton and the Republican nomination of Donald Trump with both previously declaring their support for easing laws on gambling in the US. Unfortunately, both candidates have huge financial backers that want things to stay exactly how they are. The next few years could prove very interesting for gambling in the US both online and offline.US Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hold the future to gambling in the US