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Are Bitcoin Casinos and Online Gambling Sites Legal in the United States?

There’s no doubt that online gambling (and particularly sports betting) is becoming increasingly popular and accessible in the US, thanks to changes in societal attitudes and ongoing legislative changes.

A list of the best legal gambling sites in the United States can be found here, while it’s estimated that iGaming market stateside will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.32% in the five years through 2026.

But what are the laws surrounding Bitcoin casinos and iGaming sites in the US, and just how legal are these practices?

Is it Legal to Wager Online in the US?

It’s widely thought that the historic legislative challenges experienced by the iGaming market in the US were largely caused by religious, moral and social objectives, particularly in southern states of North America.

However, the fact is that the market’s sluggish growth to date has been triggered by a complex legislative landscape, and one that continues to change and evolve on an annual basis.

In 2006, for example, the controversial ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’ (UIGEA) was added to the ‘SAFE Port Act’. This prohibited payments being made to unauthorised gambling sites, while creating the provision to criminalise the payment providers who break this law rather than the individual bettors.

It’s interesting to note, however, that this legislation doesn’t actively ban online gambling in full, which is why states such as New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Michigan have been able to legalise and regulate casino verticals (while regulating payment providers and creating fully licensed operators that gamblers can trust).

The UIGEA mostly impacted on virtual casino platforms, as remote sports betting was already prohibited at federal level by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

However, this legislation was finally overturned by the US Supreme Court in May, 2018, following years of lobbying by New Jersey and similar state authorities.

Since then, more than 20 US states have legalised sports betting, with the majority allowing for wagers to be placed in real-time through both online and mobile channels. A further 10 are thought to be on the cusp of following suit, creating a scenario where this market niche could peak at a value of $8 billion by 2025.

But what about crypto gambling? Well, this represents something of a legislative grey area, with digital, blockchain-backed assets such as Bitcoin not particularly well-regulated or understood by lawmakers in Congress.

Because of this, there’s no legislation that actively allows or regulates Bitcoin gambling in the US, but nor are there any laws that expressly prohibits operators from offering selected crypto assets to players.

However, this legal ambiguity only applies to the use of Bitcoin (or similar crypto asset) as a payment method, and any casino that offers this option to players must meet the same licensing criteria as every other operator.

You’ll also need to ensure that you’re gambling in a state where remote casinos and sportsbooks operate legally, particularly with interstate wagering currently illegal as a result of the 1961 Wire Act and the most recent DoJ opinion on this legislation.

What to Look for in a Bitcoin Casino?

Of course, the most recent DoJ opinion on the Wire Act is currently being challenged in the courts, and it’s likely that this legislation will soon only be applied to interstate sports betting (as opposed to casino gameplay).

Regardless, if you do intend to wager at a Bitcoin or crypto casino, you’ll need to identify the best and most reputable operators on the market. Here are some tips to help you find the right platform for you!

  • Choose Licensed Casinos That Accept Your Digital Currency: While identifying licensed and reputable casino platforms is relatively easy, it can be hard to find those that offer a diverse range of cryptocurrencies.In fact, the most common crypto gambling assets are Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), which lead the way in first and second-generation blockchains respectively. So, you’ll need to find a licensed platform that accepts your preferred crypto asset and allows for secure transactions.
  • Check Out the Promotional Offers: Most US casinos now compete for custom by offering lucrative welcome offers, which will vary both in terms of their value and structure. So, we’d recommend checking out the real-time bonuses offered by Bitcoin casinos and considering which one best suits your preferences and bankroll, while also ensuring that BTC deposits are eligible to receive the bonus funds.
  • Read User Reviews: While professional, independent casino reviews undoubtedly offer excellent value and insights, nothing is quite as persuasive as first-hand user reviews. By reading these, you’ll understand the precise problems and challenges that gamblers have experienced online, while also taking note of any delays to withdrawals from your account. This allows you to make genuinely informed decisions that help you to make the most of your money!

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