The legality of online slot gambling is a complicated issue, but a handful of states have legalized the games. It’s important to understand the state and federal laws that govern online gambling. Some states, such as Hawaii and Utah, have banned all forms of casino gaming. Others, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have passed laws to allow regulated online gaming. In between, there is a tumultuous patchwork of rulings and regulations.
While the Federal Wire Act of 1961 prohibits transmission of information and payments for sports betting across state lines, it doesn’t outright ban online casino gambling or poker. It has, however, made it more difficult for states to approve these types of games because they can’t form interstate compacts to pool players like they can with sports betting. Even so, the states that have approved online slots and other casino games are able to do so thanks to a 2011 reinterpretation of the law.
Currently, only Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia have legalized online slots and poker. The vast majority of other states have made it illegal to play these games, though a few are considering allowing them. As the industry grows, there’s a good chance more states will legalize these games.
It’s no coincidence that four of the first states to approve these games are in the Mid-Atlantic region. The states have found that these games don’t bring about the social ills that some lawmakers fear and can generate significant revenue for state coffers. The trend is likely to continue, especially as the United States continues to grow economically.
New York is on the cusp of approving online casinos. The Big Apple is a tourist Mecca, and the ability to gamble in New York online could significantly boost its economy. New York’s minimum age for gambling is also the lowest in the country at 18, and this could help to get the ball rolling.
Colorado has legalized sports betting, but has yet to approve online casinos. That may be because it’s unclear how to combine the existing tribal sportsbook framework with a broader online casino. Moreover, it’s not clear whether a sportsbook license is even required in the state.
In Tennessee, a reinterpretation of the Federal Wire Act allows sports betting sites to operate in the state, but online casinos remain illegal. This makes it hard to see how major operators like BetMGM and DraftKings will be able to enter the market there until at least 2023.
In Washington, sports betting went live in March 2020, but the state has not yet rolled out an online casino. It’s possible that this will happen as soon as 2023, but the state has to strike deals with its tribal casinos and figure out how to integrate mobile sports betting. All of this is complicated by the fact that a constitutional amendment would be needed to make it all work. This is a complicated and fluid situation, and it will be fascinating to see how it plays out over the next few years.