The State of Online Gambling in the USA in 2021

The online gambling industry is growing rapidly. According to research, the sector is surging at an annual rate of 11.6% and could be worth $93 billion by 2023. New Jersey is the biggest market for online gambling businesses in the country. But it’s not the only place where gambling is now legal. Below is an overview of the iGaming sector in the US.

Online Gambling in the USA is a State Matter

Before 2011, the general perception was that online gambling was illegal under federal law. After all, the Bush administration had banned foreign online casinos from providing their services to American citizens in 2006.

Then there was the Wire Act of 1961: it prohibited most forms of gambling. In 2011, the Department of Justice made a clarification that would change the state of online gambling in the US.

The DOJ, under the request of New York and Illinois, clarified that the Wire Act of 1961 banned racketeering and not online casinos. After the ground-breaking remarks, Delaware and New Jersey legalised online casinos within two years. Pennsylvania and West Virginia later followed.

Meanwhile, New Jersey felt the US needed to permit sports betting. Governor Chris Christie sponsored a bill to take down the 1992 PASPA Act that prohibited sports betting at a federal level.

Since 2018, states have had the powers to regulate both online casinos and online sports betting websites. As such, you won’t find a casino with a federal license in the US. Instead, licenses are acquired from the state1.

Where in the USA is Online Gambling Legal?

Many states look at online casinos and sports betting as two different issues. Some states permit both casinos and sports betting. However, a majority of jurisdictions permit sports betting alone. Meanwhile, below are a few states that support online casinos.

Online Gambling in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania legalised online casinos in October, 2017. Under the bill, online poker, slots and all major table games would become legal. The cost of acquiring a license to start an online casino in Pennsylvania starts at $10 million.

In case you’re wondering, the best PA online casinos are run by well-known brand. They all hold licenses from the Pennsylvania Gambling and Control Board (PGCB). More importantly, they’re safe, reliable and mobile-friendly.

Online Gambling in New Jersey

As we stated earlier, New Jersey is the biggest market for online casinos in the US. The state has over 20 casino sites that generate up to $5 billion per year. Over 80% of this revenue comes from mobile gamblers, which paints a clear picture of the growth of mobile devices in the US.

The Reason NJ rakes big from online casinos is due to its laws. Unlike PA, which taxes 52% of income made from slots, New Jersey has a flat tax rate of 8% for all casino games.

Online Gambling in Delaware

Contrary to popular belief, Delaware and not New Jersey was the first state to legalise online casinos in the US. The state passed a law permitting online casinos in 2012, one year ahead of the Garden State.

Sadly, Delaware has barely reaped any benefits from legalising online casinos. It has three online casinos compared to NJ’s 30 and PA’s 12. The three casinos share software provided by 888 Gambling Ltd, meaning players don’t have a lot of options.

What’s more, Delaware taxes the businesses 62.5% of their annual revenues. Logically, this exploitive tax rate compounded with Delaware’s small population have hindered dozens of operators from venturing into the market.

Online Gambling in West Virginia

West Virginia legalised online casinos in 2019. And since then, more than five operators have acquired licenses to provide gambling services in the state. Nearly all of the casinos also provide online sports betting.

States that Permit Sports Betting in the USA

Many states in the US are reluctant to legalise online casinos. But they swung into action immediately the Supreme Court empowered them to regulate sports betting. Below are some of the states with the best sports betting laws:


One of the few states never affected by PASPA, Nevada is home to some of the world’s biggest casinos. These companies provide sports betting in-person. And since 2015, some of the casinos also feature apps through which you can wager online.

NJ, PA, WV and DE

All the states that permit online casinos also support sports betting. West Virginia legalised both activities with the same bill in 2019. But the remaining states sanctioned online casinos before legalising sports betting afterwards.

New York

New York legalised sports betting in 2019. But after finding out 20% of New York-based gamblers tour New Jersey to gamble online, Gov Andrew Cuomo tabled a bill to permit online betting. The bill is still a proposal. And with Cuomo resigning, only time will tell whether mobile betting will become a reality in the Empire State.


Iowa joined the list of states with legal sports betting in 2019. Governor Kim Reynolds signed the law mid-August, the same day multiple betting companies opened their doors to customers. For clarity, Iowa permits both mobile and in-person betting.


Illinois legalised sports betting in March 2020. The state’s law allows investors to setup betting shops close to stadiums and at designated areas. Also, it supports mobile betting with the exception of wagering on minor leagues and in-state college competitions.

Washington, D.C.

D.C. introduced legal sports betting in June 2020 through a state-run app. One year later, the app has been performing as expected due to poor odds, constant crashes and mismanagement.


Tennessee has an interesting sports betting law. It permits four companies to provide mobile sports betting only. That means brick and mortar casinos are prohibited from providing sports betting.

States Potentially Planning to Legalise Sports Betting

A handful of states are taking a bit longer to legalise sports betting. But they’re on track. They include Wyoming, Nebraska, Louisiana, South Dakota and Maryland. A few more states have already table bills to legalise the industry. However, the bills are yet to be signed into law.

These states include Maine, Oklahoma, Ohio, Hawaii, Texas, Georgia and Kansas. That said, Utah, Idaho and Wisconsin are the only states with no plans to legalise gambling at all.