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After years of little progress, the United States online casino business is finally starting to take off.
An industry once dominated by just New Jersey has started including new states in recent years, with more states offering real money online casinos potentially to come.
The states where you can play online casino games for real money are fairly limited now. There are also sweepstakes casinos that operate in a variety of states around the country that are different from the legal online casinos that you will find in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and eventually Michigan.
Here’s a look at some of the best online casinos in the US:
The list of states with legal online casinos is relatively small currently, but it involves some pretty large states:
The first NJ online casinos launched in 2013, and the industry has been growing at a steady clip ever since.
This is easily the best place to play online casino games in the country, with a robust set of choices for gamblers that includes about two dozen online casinos, a number that will continue to grow. Those casinos include extensive game libraries of slots and table games, even including live dealer games that simulate being in a physical casino.
The biggest online casinos in the state are Borgata online casino / BetMGM Casino and the Golden Nugget online casino. Borgata is believed to be the single biggest casino in terms of revenue and wagers taken, while the casinos that operate under the Golden Nugget license generate the most revenue on a monthly basis. (All online casino licenses are tied to land-based partners.)
The 2020 pandemic accelerated an industry that was already growing at a brisk pace, to the point that we may soon see $1 billion in operator revenue per year just from online casinos.
The third state to legalize online casinos, PA got in the game as part of sweeping gaming expansion legislation passed in 2017. PA online casinos launched in 2019.
There are already about a dozen online casinos live in the state, giving customers a fairly robust selection to choose from.
Licenses in the state, like New Jersey, are tied to land-based casinos in Pennsylvania.
Michigan online casinos were legalized in 2019, but are not yet live. They could go live in late 2020 or early 2021.
The state legalized online gambling (including casinos) and sports betting for both commercial casinos and tribal casinos, meaning we could see perhaps dozens of online gambling options in the state.
Delaware was actually the first state to legalize online casinos. But it is a relatively small industry in the state, as it is a monopoly run by the lottery in conjunction with 888.
There is no state that is imminently legalizing online casino games. But several are at least prospects to do so.
Despite the success of online casino gambling — especially as the 2020 pandemic shut down and limited revenue from land-based casinos — it has been relatively slow to expand. But as the world and gambling companies moves increasingly toward online operations, that is poised to change. US gaming giants like MGM Resorts, Caesars, Penn National Gaming and Boyd Gaming all have varying but serious intentions to make more from online gambling.
Here’s a look at places that might legalize forms of online casino games:
The state already has online poker and mobile sports betting. So it’s not a reach to think online casinos could someday come to the birthplace of legalized gambling in the US.
But it’s more complicated than that. Many of the land-based casinos in the state want nothing to do with online, even though some of the largest companies are pursuing it around the country.
Nevada also still has antiquated regulations on the books requiring online sports betting accounts to be created at a physical sportsbook.
Illinois is the only state on this list that has seriously advanced a bill; legislation that would have allowed Illinois online casinos passed the Senate in 2017. But the issue has not come up since.
The state now has legal online sportsbooks, so the thought that it could take another run at legalizing online casinos at least seems feasible.
But like Illinois, Indiana has a fully open online sports betting industry. The success of markets that have both casino and sports betting (NJ and PA) should start telling a compelling narrative for states like Indiana.
The state’s tribes have been saying for several years that they want online gambling. But disputes with the state and other gambling interests have held up the legalization of Connecticut online casinos.
Like all states, finding new sources of revenue can be a compelling idea, meaning online casinos in the state will have a shot at passing in the coming years.
The commonwealth has been eyeing sports betting and other forms of online gambling for years. It is the home of DraftKings, and that very large online gambling company has been trying to push online casinos over the finish line in recent years.
Every year brings new hope of Massachusetts online casinos and sports betting, but that hope has never been rewarded with action.
Getting started at an online casino is fairly easy, and generally consists of the same steps no matter what legal casino you are signing up for.
The first step is to get your app. You can, of course, play directly on a desktop or mobile site. But if you want to play on a phone or a tablet, this is your first step.
The next step? Getting your account started.
This involves giving the online casino a number of pieces of information, likely including:
All of that information is used to verify that you are who you say you are, and that you are of legal gambling age (21).
While you can do all of the above anywhere in the US, you will have to be physically located within the state in order to actually gamble online.
Depending on the state and the individual online casino, you have one of several options:
There is a big difference between the legal and regulated online casinos in the United States and the variety of offshore sites that serve the US.
Here’s a top-level look at the differences:
There are a few easy ways:
You can play just about anything that you would find at a physical casino at online casinos, including:
You can also play online poker in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Delaware.
Here are some common questions about online casinos in the US.
The age to gamble online in all the states that have legalized online casinos is 21.
No, state laws mandate that you must be physically located in the state. Geolocation technology will verify where you are to a high degree of accuracy if you are on the border of a state with legal online casino gambling.
That answer is directly tied to how many states legalize it.
When New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan all reach maturity, we’re talking about perhaps in excess of $3 billion in gross gaming revenue generated by just those states. If more states are added, like from the list above, we could quickly be talking about somewhere in excess of $10 billion in GGR.
But, it all depends on the pace of legalization.