Online Gambling in North America? Is It Really Legal?

Online gambling in North America is a complex affair because of different federal, state, and provincial laws. The complexity is also made broader by the legality of some types of gambling and the illegal nature of others in a particular area.

Also, offshore gambling can often be accessed from many regions in North America. Federal laws have attempted to make it difficult for players because of this. Federal statutes and offshore payment processing have prevented many players from accessing offshore casinos. What does this mean for players? It means that you need to do a few checks before playing online in your state or province.

Gambling is Not Illegal in North America

Gambling is not made explicitly illegal by the Federal Government of the United States. Still, individual states and other territories are less forgiving or more liberal. Some will have tighter laws or have made some games legal or illegal in their region. Different regions may allow all forms. Some may sit in between strict or more relaxed regulations.

However, the reality is that an online punt will not attract much attention from either the federal or state authorities in the US. Other territories might be more liberal or have their own complex legal issues. For the most part, most areas are more concerned about illegal gambling operations without licenses. Each website will usually have a verification process to ensure that players are abiding by the law.

What about Canada?

Canada sits in a grey area at the federal level. It doesn’t make online gambling and land-based gambling legal or illegal. Winnings are not taxed and Canada’s approach to offshore gambling sits in a grey area meaning that many Canadians bet offshore without any hassle.

However, state laws are much tighter in Canada. Also, different states will have restrictions on sports betting and other casino games. Players are usually not allowed to play certain games if they are located outside of the state. This article on explains more about the legalities in Canada.

Gambling Laws are Very Diverse

Online casinos can be played by residents in the US gambling states of Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. However, Nevada still has a question mark over it as Las Vegas has been fighting against its legality.

Some US states also have particularly bad or unfriendly laws in place for having a bet. These states include Utah, which has an almost puritanical view on gambling. They have no desire to legalize any form of gambling. Hawaii is on par with Utah.

Indiana has harsh laws and is too risky to bet in any setting, including the home. Tennessee has very old rules in place, and most go to Mississippi to bet. Alaskan natives also head out of state to gamble because of laws that make gambling a felony in some cases.

New Hampshire still has a long battle going on over laws and is not worth it for many. Georgia makes gambling illegal apart from a few games on a cruise ship casino. Texas has not chased players down for online gambling yet, but more laws seem likely.

Florida has strict laws in place for private poker games and online casinos. They may go on the attack against online gambling. Wisconsin has many casinos but also tries to outlaw new games such as fantasy sports.

Other Regions and Territories

The US Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Greenland, and Turks and Caicos have more liberal laws. The Bahamas allows gambling for tourists but is stricter towards citizens. However, there are few felonies in this state. Cuba has strict regulations in place, and Mexico regulates online gambling. Puerto Rico makes most gambling illegal, but operators are at risk more than players.

The other states will usually allow some forms of gambling and will either toe the federal line or make their own laws. Check with online gambling operations to learn more about their legality before playing.

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