As the legalization of online gambling in the US starts to become more widespread, the number of brands that are filtering back in is on the up. The industry has some way to go from the glory days of the mid-2000s, but the latest legislation means that we are now as close as we’ve ever been.
The water surrounding legal gambling sites are still quite murky. Each state has its own laws and it’s rarely the same across borders, even for those that have legalized it fully.
Throughout our site, we want to create a hub for all things regarding legal online gambling sites in the US and keep you up to date with this ever-changing environment.
Best Legal Gambling Sites
Choosing the best online gambling sites is not always an easy process. Each site has lots of moving parts, so what works for one person, might not necessarily work for another.
Below we have compiled a list of what we believe to be the best legal gambling sites on the market right now. Each site has been tested as far as we can push it and then we rank them based on how well they perform. To get an in-depth look at our process, jump to the next section.
One of the major sticking points when ranking these sites is making sure that gambling is legal in the state where the service is being offered. Online-gambling.com has one of the most comprehensive guides to legal online gambling sites for US players.
Within the table below are operators that you’re likely familiar with, but also new brands that perhaps are less of a household name. The changes in legislation over the last 5 years have pushed out some of the longer-standing brands, while simultaneously opening the space for new gambling sites.
|Best US Casinos||Bonus||Pros||Rating||Secure Link|
|Borgata||100% up to $1000 + $20 Sign-up Bonus||Top US Operator||Play Here!|
|Full T&Cs apply. 21+. NJ players and new accounts only. Valid through December 31, 2021. Visit theborgata.com for full terms & conditions.|
|888Casino||120% up to $500 + $20 Free Play||Custom Casino Games||Play Here!|
|Full T&Cs apply. 21+. New players only. Valid from 2/26/20 – 12/31/22, 7:00 pm EST. Visit 888casino.com for full terms & conditions.|
|Unibet||100% up to $500 + $25 Sign-up Bonus||Best All-in-One Platform||Play Here!|
|Full T&Cs apply. 21+. New players only. Use code UBCASINO500. Visit unibet.com for full terms & conditions.|
|Caesars||100% up to $300 Welcome Offer||Experienced US Casino||Play Here!|
|Full T&Cs apply. 21+. NJ players only. Visit caesarscasino.com for full terms & conditions.|
|BetMGM||100% up to $1,000 + $25 Free Play||Great for Free Play||Play Here!|
|Full T&Cs apply. 21+. NJ players only. Visit mgmresorts.com/en/casino.html for full terms & conditions.|
How We Rank and Review Sites
We take pride in offering our readers unbiased and fully comprehensive reviews of the gambling sites that we test. If there are features within a site that we don’t like, we will tell you. We aren’t afraid to talk about what doesn’t work, along with highlighting what works well.
To make our reviews as reliable as we can, we have set up several teams dedicated to just reviews. The teams specialize within sectors of the industry, including casino, sports, poker, daily fantasy sports, and lottery.
Each team is made up of current gamblers, professional gamblers, software engineers, sports/gaming enthusiasts, and general members of the public. This gives us a great platform to cover all bases within each review.
The process starts with the regulations and licensing structure of the brand. Who are they licensed with and then who does that license allow to sign up to their site? This is one of the most important sections for each of our reviews so we can highlight to you who can and can’t get access.
We then move into the meat of each gambling site. This includes features such as the online casino game selection, sports betting coverage, bonus offers for new and existing players, as well as the quality of the gaming interface for online poker and other table games.
Each review can take weeks to test and then write up. This isn’t a process where we look at a site for a couple of hours and then move on. We live with the brand and then create what we believe to be the most honest feedback you’ll find online.
General areas that are reviewed include banking options, customer support, bonuses, welcome offers, existing player offers, features, design, mobile integration, game coverage, live gambling, and many more.
Only when we are totally happy that we’ve covered all bases do we then go live, giving our readers an in-depth and objective review of each site.
Is Online Gambling Legal in the US?
The short answer to this is yes, online gambling is legal in the US. The number of legal online gambling sites is starting to grow as a result and the marketplace is becoming much more competitive, which is great for the players.
The long answer to the question is a little less straightforward. You see, only a handful of states are fully legal and fully operational right now.
What you will find is that each state is allowed to govern if they want to allow online gambling within their state borders. But, it’s not as easy as simply opening the gates and online gambling is suddenly allowed. Legislations to make the casino and betting platforms safe need to be passed, and legal action tends to take time. It’s also important to note that states then must consider how gambling will impact taxpayers. You can read more about gambling taxes in the US in our article.
To put this into some context, after the fallout from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, it took until 2012 before Delaware was the first state to announce they were opening up their state to legalize online gambling.
Since then just 6 states are now fully legal, and ironically, Delaware is not one of those states. These processes are long and drawn out but progress is undoubtedly being made.
How to Pick a Legit Gambling Site
One of the easiest things to look for with a new gambling site is who they are licensed by. This doesn’t just apply to US-based sites either, it goes for any online entity.
If it’s a big brand that you’re already aware of, the chances are that they are fully licensed. However, smaller sites are starting to break into the industry, so it’s important to know where to look.
Most US sites will be licensed with the Curacao Gaming Authority. They provide licenses for these companies to trade and also make sure that the platforms they work on are fair.
You can check a safe gambling site’s license by simply scrolling to the bottom of the sportsbook or casino and then seeing an icon or logo of the Curacao Gaming Authority. You should then be able to click on the logo and it will take you to the CGA site where you can see more about the license.
If there is no link then you can do a manual search from the CGA site. If no information comes up about that site or it states that a license has been revoked or expired, then alarm bells should start to ring.
Other territories also offer licenses to US gambling sites, including the Malta Gaming Authority. The process to check on the license should be the same, regardless of where it’s been issued.
Once you’re happy the license is in place, you can turn your attention to the banking options. We recommend this before checking out the main section of a gambling site as if it’s going to be an issue to get real money in and out, in which case you likely want nothing to do with the site.
You can start to look at the payment methods that they have and make sure there are at least one or two that you are familiar with and comfortable using. Next check on the timeframe of the available banking options to confirm if there are any fees. The majority of the bigger sites will allow you to get real money in and out promptly and also without fees.
Finally, legit gambling sites are going to have a good range of games to play or markets to bet on. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if they are limited then there is likely going to be a better option elsewhere.
How do State Laws Vary?
As we have already touched upon, the number of states that offer online gambling is limited. To confuse things further, the products that they offer might be limited as well.
For example, West Virginia is one of the few states that legally allows online casinos, online poker, and online sports betting to be played. However, many other states might have just one or two of these that are legal. Somewhere like Oregon still has bans imposed on online casino and poker but legalize online sports betting.
Below is a table of states that allow some form of online gambling websites in the US:
|State||Online Casino||Online Poker||Online Sports Betting|
One thing that we will add to this is that the landscape for legal US gambling sites is constantly changing. Even as we write this some states are pushing ahead with bills to try and get in on the action.
The three who are hotly tipped to be next are that of California, New York, and Massachusetts. These are huge states in the US and could unlock a massive wave of new players in the industry.
Online Casinos in the US
As you can see from the table above, online casinos in the US have been slightly harder to pass through than poker sites or sports. It’s not totally clear why this is, but one of the theories is that the brick and mortar casinos, with which online platforms need to work with to obtain a license, are wary about losing out on business to the online sector.
Another theory that likely carries a little more weight is that the number of game developers who are licensed in the US is still very small. BetSoft, WMS, and RealTime Gaming are three of the biggest names who are catering to the Us. However, they are far from household names compared to some who are yet to get into the market.
The number of developers will increase with time. The big players who are currently plying their trade across Europe will eventually want in as the US market starts to open up.
For now, the US online casino platform is still developing, but you can rest assured that it will grow and likely at a quick rate once those floodgates open. If you’re lucky enough to be a resident of one of the states where online gambling has already been legalized, make sure you take precautions and play safe. Check out our article on gambling strategies and why they won’t work here.
Sports Betting in the US
Sports betting is much more popular and widely accessible these days. America has strong ties to sports betting, and they have huge followings with the likes of American football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, soccer, and many others.
Betting on sports is a very simple process and the majority of the larger casinos have created an online extension into sports betting. We’ve also noticed that several new brands have been created on the back of this success, with Barstool Sportsbook being a prime example of this.
Market and sports coverage have been impressive to see from bigger names, with great parlays, promotions, and bonuses flying around every week. We encourage you to check out our review of the best gambling podcasts for tips, tricks, and humor from industry experts!
Online Poker in the US
Online poker has seen a slower uprise than the other two gambling options. There was a time where this was the largest online gambling activity in the US, but the fallout with the UIGEA soon put a stop to that, and to be honest, it’s never really recovered.
The number of states that offer online poker sites is still low and there aren’t many sites that are catering to the US market right now. Those that do can be limited in terms of the consistency of traffic.
In a bizarre turnaround for the online poker sector, the lockdown following COVID-19 has seen numbers rise again. More people are now getting back into online poker and fairly recently the World Series of Poker was held online for the first time on the back of players not being allowed into casinos due to social distancing.
Daily Fantasy Sports in the US
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) in the US has been the only gambling outlet that many people have been able to legally enjoy over the last decade or so. It’s been running in New York via DraftKings and FanDuel since 2015 and even overcame a cease-and-desist order to keep their doors open.
As online sports betting returns, DFS will likely suffer as a result. However, the popularity that has grown in the US means that it will likely still be widely accessible at several sites for many years to come.
Advantages of Online Gambling Sites
There are many reasons why we suggest that you are best off by using gambling websites.
- Convenience – There is no getting away from the fact that gambling online, be it sports, casino or poker is highly convenient. You don’t need to travel to a casino or poker room and you can bet at any time of the day.
- Larger range – The range of sports, casino games, or poker games is much bigger online. Why? The pool of players, for one, with online poker sites, but for sports and casinos, you can set lines and create games easily, and then all you need to do is upload them.
- Betting offers – Offers and promotions are one of the biggest reasons to use online gambling sites. Almost all sites come with some form of welcome bonus and most have a loyalty program where you can continue earning as a reward for staying with that brand.
- All platforms tied in – There will be some sites that allow you to access sports, casinos, and poker rooms under the same brand. They may even allow you to access them under the same account, which makes it so much easier to jump from one discipline to another.
- Mobile – Mobile gambling is the next big thing, and this will start to flood the US over the next few years. Being able to bet on the go from anywhere within a legal gambling site is going to make accessibility that much easier.
- Bigger wins – This mainly applies to online casinos and online poker rooms, but things like jackpots and tournaments winnings are almost always bigger online. Progressive jackpots are a great example of that with millions of dollars up for grabs with each spin.
The Future of Online Gambling in the US
The online gambling industry in the US has gone through some dark times. There have been countless multi-billion-dollar corporations closed down almost overnight and a pastime that many had enjoyed for decades almost totally disappeared.
Whether the process of the fallout of online gambling was a fair one is a conversation for another day, but we must admit that the future is starting to look bright again in the US.
At the time of writing, 13 states allow some form of online sports, casino, or poker. This is great, but the most impressive and we think exciting thing is the number of states that are trying to pass bills as we type to get in on the action.
It’s gone from almost zero to 20% of the country in just a couple of years. There is little doubt that the money that flows through the industry will eventually start to talk for itself. It’s not a coincidence that the likes of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York (likely coming soon) and New Jersey have been some of the first to act and change their laws. If one state sees their neighbors making money, then at some point they are going to want a piece of the action.
Unfortunately, the process for legalization is going to take time. We are talking years here, but we wouldn’t be surprised if many states had irons in the fire already to legalize gambling and we just aren’t aware of it yet.
If you compare the current situation to 5 years ago, then it’s like comparing night and day.
Can it return to the glory days? That’s tough to say and we would likely have to say no, but it can get somewhere near. It will be more regulated, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s going to come down to the states that want it the most and that are willing to put the work in to make it happen.
Can you legally gamble online in the US?
Yes, there are several states where you can legally gamble online in the US. It must be noted that only when you are located within these state borders can you gamble, and once you leave you will no longer have access.
Why is online gambling in the US illegal?
Not all states offer online gambling because they have yet to pass a state law saying otherwise. There is no deferral law, which means states can decide if they want to legalize it or not.
What games can you play at an online casino in the US?
You can access a huge range of games from slots, roulette, blackjack, table games, video poker, baccarat, and more recently, live casino games. As more casino game developers start to infiltrate the market, the volume and range of games will increase.
Why was gambling illegal in the US?
Initially, gambling was made illegal because the government decided that they couldn’t control the amount of money coming in, and in turn, correctly tax it. Since then, other issues such as morality or religion have played a role in some states in legalizing online gambling.
How do I know if gambling is legal in my state?
Gambling laws are passed by each state, and therefore are accessible to view via state and government official websites. We also encourage you to read our site as we go into detail about state laws and industry news.
Can I sign up for a gambling site if I am not a resident in that state?
You can sign up, but you won’t be able to make a deposit, nor will you be able to place a bet. Some gambling sites may ban players from even accessing the site if they are in a prohibited state.
How old do I have to be to legally gamble online in the US?
You need to be aged 21 or over to gamble online in the US. Most of the best gambling sites will need some sort of proof of age before you can sign up, deposit, and place your bet. This is sometimes referred to as KYC (Know Your Customer).
Can European players access US gambling sites?
No. US-based gambling sites are only accessible via players who live in the US. If a European player from England, for example, was residing permanently in a state that allowed online gambling, they would be able to create an account.
How do I know if a gambling site is safe to use?
Safe online gambling sites will be fully licensed, usually by the Curacao Gambling Authority or Malta Gaming Authority. You can check their sites to see if the gambling license is still valid.
What bonuses can I get from a gambling site?
Bonuses range depending on the gambling site, but it’s not uncommon to get deposit matches worth up to $500 when you are registering a new account. Offers for existing players are less common but still offer value.