The limitations of online poker and betting in the U.S.

Poker is one of the most popular card games worldwide. The game wasn't born in the USA, but it's so embedded in the American culture that many idioms and adagios are inspired by it.

The limitations of online poker and betting in the U.S. [pixabay]

Any land-based casino you visit will offer one or more varieties of this widely popular game. However, the situation is much stricter regarding online poker and other forms of online betting. Why so? Keep reading and find out.

Because every state has the independence to legislate over issues like gambling, there are many different and conflicting laws across the country. Gambling is permitted under federal law, but it faces several restrictions by state and local governments. Land-based casinos are allowed in 23 states, plus three other overseas territories. Those states are as follows:

  • West Virginia
  • Washington
  • South Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Montana
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Maine
  • Louisiana
  • Iowa
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Delaware
  • Colorado
  • Arkansas
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • Northern Mariana Islands

Currently, a few states allow online poker. The Delaware poker rooms are popular among locals and those that visit from out of town. Other states that have legal online poker include New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Nevada.

At the federal level, online gambling laws history is full of back-and-forth Acts. The Wire Act, from 1961, regulated gambling activities for a long time. However, it was created before the internet, so most of it doesn't apply to online gambling. Sports betting faced a federal ban under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act from 1992. This Act was overruled in 2018 by the Supreme Court, allowing state governments to decriminalize the activity.

It's essential to bear in mind that gambling is a general term. It's possible to gamble in games of chance, skill, and sports. While several states allow some sort of online gambling, each state has its own ‘peculiarities’ regarding what's allowed and what isn't allowed.

Sports betting is in pretty much the same situation. Like other forms of gambling, the modality was banned under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This ban was only overruled in 2018 by the Supreme Court. Still, in the DOJ's understanding, this modality must abide by the Wire Act. It means states can only offer this option to residents.

Currently, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia allow online sports betting. The state of Delaware allows several forms of online gambling, although it doesn't allow online sports betting. Nevada will enable residents to bet on sports, although not in its online version.

Six other states are pushing forward bills to legalize sports betting. Those are California, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Nevada.

Gambling is legal in one way or another in 48 states. The only two exceptions are Utah and Hawaii. In Utah, a state with a substantial Mormon community, the reason for the ban seems to be religious. Although it isn't the case in Hawaii, its residents reject the activity because of fears that it would change the local cultural balance, although that is neuter proven to be true or not.



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