Gambling is wagering something valuable, typically money, on the outcome of a game or event. Since 2019, the U.S. has had more than 400 commercial casinos.
However, gambling is still subject to legal limits in the U.S. In this article, We will inform you about which states in the U.S. do not allow casinos and gambling.
Disclaimer - We are not lawyers, and this content should not be considered legal advice. Also, note that US gambling laws evolve quickly, and laws may not be the same the day you read this.
A Brief History of Regulated Gambling in the U.S.
In terms of laws in the United States, gambling is legal on a federal level, which means that every state has the power to regulate it - both in the online and real world.
The gross revenue of gambling activities in the U.S. has reached $92.27 billion. State-specific gambling laws locally restrict or regulate various gaming types.
The legislation differs around land-based skill games, bingo, keno, the lottery, sports betting, charitable events, and casinos, depending on where you live. In the USA, all 48 states have legally restricted gambling, except for Utah and Hawaii.
The Wire Act of 1961 in the United States controlled the gambling industry for the longest time. It is legislation that started before the internet, which was established to operate with antiracketeering laws and is not entirely applicable to online gambling.
In 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made it possible for states to pass laws about online gambling, which made the activity legal. This paved the way for U.S. online casinos, sportsbooks, poker cardrooms, and bingo rooms in the coming years.
Furthermore, numerous states are still prohibiting commercial casinos and sports betting. But most of them let native tribes run casinos as long as they follow the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Are casinos illegal in the U.S.?
Gambling is still subject to legal limitations in the United States. Some states in the United States allow casinos to operate, while others prohibit them.
Why are many forms of gambling illegal in the U.S.?
Gambling critics contend that this act leads to higher crime rates, compulsive gambling, and political corruption. Some argue that gambling is a regressive tax on individuals in local economies where venues for gambling types are situated.
When did gambling become illegal in the United States?
Nearly all forms of gambling were outlawed in the United States by the end of 1910. Congress proposed the 18th Amendment prohibition to the states. This prohibition amendment became law in 1919 after being sanctioned by the state of Nevada.
Are online casinos legal in the United States?
Several states have embarked on the opportunity to regulate, legalize, and tax online poker and casino games. Online casinos are legal in the U.S. The states where online casinos and internet gambling are regulated include West Virginia, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Delaware, and California.
Where is gambling legal in the U.S.?
Gambling is legal in 48 states of the United States in some capacity. Out of 50 states, only Hawaii and Utah have 100% banned and decriminalized gambling. But in Hawaii, social poker games in private residences are permitted.
States That Do Not Allow Casinos
Listed below are the states that do not allow casinos and other gambling in the United States:
Gambling in Utah is non-resistant because it's one of only two states in the United States that don't have any means of gambling.
In Utah, there's no state lottery. The Indian tribes here cannot offer gambling activities because no government has permitted them to set up a gaming compact, and the state doesn't have any gambling options. Even charities are not allowed to hold raffles or bingo games.
Hawaii restricts the operation of cruise ships from their state. Apart from Utah, Hawaii is also a state without any casinos and does not allow gambling. Even bingo and charitable purposes are not allowed.
Moreover, cruises that end or originate in this state should not have commercial gambling devices, such as electronic casino games. Because of this, anyone who wants to gamble in a casino in Hawaii must go to the mainland.
Lawmakers in Alaska have found no reason to decriminalize building Alaska casinos and any form of gambling to raise funds because Alaska is a mineral deposit-rich state. They don't need to legalize gambling since the mining industry already pays most of the state tax.
Regarding gambling laws, Texas is one of the strictest states in the U.S. Its rules can encompass various activities. Under Penal Code 42, Texas law states that gambling is a criminal offense. It does not provide for some exemptions, such as betting on greyhound dog races and horses or participating in the state lottery.
Apart from the state lottery, you will not find any gambling or casinos in Tennessee. The only other means of gambling in this state is through charities that may offer low-limit raffles as prizes but not cash. However, several event centers provide transportation to casinos within the states nearby.
Currently, only two greyhound tracks and three casinos are operating in Alabama. Bingo is legal as long as the proceeds go to charity. A local poll must also approve the bingo charity game beforehand.
In American Samoa, there is no minimum legal gambling age since all types of gambling activities are illegal in this U.S. island territory. Here, you cannot find any land-based casinos. Bingo does exist, especially in Pago Pago, but it is not a form of gambling in this area. Instead, it is a recreational activity or a way for island residents to pass the time.
Across Arizona, there are more than 30 legal options for in-person gambling. Native tribes are running all the casinos on the reservation, and you will not find any commercial casinos similar to what you can find in Las Vegas. Also, some land-based casinos located in Arizona don't have a license for online gambling.
California is the home of some of the principal poker rooms around the globe. Here, you can find more than sixty Indian casinos in California. Poker is not a gambling activity in California based on future court rulings and the state constitution.
The gambling law in Connecticut states that casinos are only permitted to operate on tribal land. The Connecticut casinos should pay 25% of the slots to win in return for the gambling monopoly. Connecticut gambling law explicitly allows Jai Alai, greyhound tracks, and horse racing.
There's minimal gambling and no casinos in Washington, D.C., perhaps because it's the capital of the USA. This state is primarily an urban city with no real estate to cater to racetracks or casino resorts. The lottery is the only type of legal gambling in this state.
For many types of gambling, Florida was a forerunner because it decriminalized greyhounds and horse racing before any other state. In addition, Florida's first form of gambling was the state lottery. Both of these gambling activities are the only legal ones available online.
The gambling laws in Georgia make most forms of gambling and betting illegal. Residents in this state can not possess video poker or slot machines. Though playing poker games at home is legal, residents must not take any entry fee and should not take a portion of the pot as a rake. You can't see Georgia casinos within the state borders. However, players can look for alternatives and various ways to play the games in neighboring states that allow legalized gambling.
Though this state currently has banned laws on gambling, they offer exemptions. Under Bill 318-34, bingo or lottery sales by cockfighting and tax-exempt nonprofit organizations will still be legal. But in 2019, cockfighting will be against the law in Guam and other places.
You can find a great selection of racetracks and casinos spread throughout Idaho. However, suppose you're searching for casino card games, such as poker or blackjack. In that case, you're out of luck because these states permit video poker and slot machines to operate, even at the Indian casinos.
The state lottery operates three casinos in Kansas. You can find five Kansas Native American casinos on reservation land that should follow similar laws but don't contribute to the general tax fund of the state.
While horse betting has always been legal, it has had a hard time expanding into casinos in Kentucky. Kentucky gambling laws exempt instant racing machines, horse racing, and the state lottery. While horse betting has always been legal in this state, it has had a hard time expanding into casinos in Kentucky. Moreover, the only places where video poker and slots are legal in Minnesota are the Indian reservations. Charities can run bingo raffles and games.
This state's gambling laws permit off-track betting and horse racing. Even a registered charity and the state slots legal in Minnesota are the Indian reservations.
In Montana, there are a lot of places to go if you want to gamble. These casinos are bars with video lottery machines and a poker table inside. In this state, table games are illegal.
The only legal games in Nebraska include a state lottery, keno, charity bingo, and horse racing. Even if there are no specific casinos in this state, other establishments and racetracks that serve alcohol can start a live keno drawing, making them the closest you can get to a casino spot without leaving Nebraska.
This state enables charities to spread many means of gambling, including poker, raffles, and bingo. The most extensive charity poker rooms in New Hampshire are throughout the state. Some poker rooms call themselves New Hampshire Casinos, even if they provide poker games.
The gambling laws in New Mexico claim that all types of gambling are illegal unless specifically exempted under state law. If charities become eligible as nonprofit organizations under federal law, they may be allowed to start games of chance. New Mexico Indian casinos must have a gaming compact and unlimited casino games. Table games, live poker, electronic games, video poker, and other casino games are legal in tribal lands.
The casinos in North Carolina can only run on Cherokee tribe land. E-games should require skills unless they fall under a bingo or raffle format. Other slots utilize a roll and lock format, meaning a player holds the reel and spins again.
The gambling laws allow casinos to operate under the provision that they are on Native American reservations. The legal games in North Dakota include video poker, slots, live poker, blackjack, roulette, and craps.
In Oklahoma, however, most casinos in this state belong to the Indian tribes. Casinos operate on Native American tribal land, and they run most casinos in this state.
Oregon has ten casinos that provide all forms of gambling, which are all located on tribal land. The casino games allowed are house-banked poker games, roulette, craps, blackjack, off-track betting, electronic table games, live poker, and slots. Casinos in this state may provide several means of authorized gambling. However, it imposes severe penalties for individuals convicted of operating illegal businesses.
Casinos have emerged all over South Carolina. All restaurants, bars, and gas stations have video poker cabinets even though the state did not allow any establishment to host them in 2000. A year later, the state created a state lottery. Charity bingo and a casino cruise, which docks close to Myrtle Beach, are the only other legal gambling types in South Carolina.
Gambling in Vermont is almost nonexistent. There are no casinos in this state. However, charities occasionally hold raffles, bingo games, or even casino nights. A state lottery offers video monitors and sells lotto and scratch-off tickets in convenience stores catering to virtual instant games.
You hardly have any options to select from regarding gambling in Virginia. Though casinos are nonexistent in this state, some services help transport client wagerers to other states that have legalized gambling.
The casino industry in Wisconsin is healthy and large, even though it doesn't have that reputation. Currently, there are 22 operating casinos within the state borders. The state's tribes have mostly benefited from the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and have reached agreements with the state of Wisconsin.
Even though Wyoming is a liberal state, its gambling laws are strict. Casinos are only allowed on tribal lands in Wyoming. Even so, games of chance, such as table games, are forbidden. However, video poker, slot machines, and card games requiring some skill level, such as poker, are permitted to operate in reservation casinos.
Gambling in the United States is not entirely legal under federal law. Out of all 50 states, only Utah and Hawaii have entirely banned gambling, while 48 states have legalized some gambling activities. Although, these forms of gambling in every state are still subject to legal limitations in the United States.
This article was published on July 23, 2022, and last updated on October 26, 2022.