Many people love to gamble on sports or to visit casinos but as you may know, not all states have the same laws when it comes to this particular activity. While Florida is home to the 6th biggest casino in the world not everywhere is as welcoming to poker and roulette players.
The Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Hotel is situated in Tampa Reservation and has over 5,000 slot machines which should be enough to keep all their guests entertained. However, sometimes people want to take a vacation or a road trip, and perhaps they might like to place a sports bet along the way or visit a casino.
Navigating the USA’s tricky gambling laws might be difficult enough for Americans but for an overseas visitor, it is almost impossible. In the UK, gambling is extremely accessible as long as you are of legal age. Sports betting, lotteries, casinos, and slot machines are all easily available so if a Brit came to the states he or she might have a slight shock.
What are the gambling laws in the USA?
For a long time, it was illegal to gamble in the United States except for Nevada and New Jersey. In 2018 the Supreme Court decreed that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act or PASPA was unconstitutional. This was the law that forbade individual states from allowing sports betting.
This effectively set up all the states to legalize sports betting as and when they wished. As with all laws, it wasn’t universally popular, and not everywhere has rushed to embrace this new opportunity.
Over recent years, more Native American casinos have opened, card rooms have been allowed, and various states have relaxed gambling rules to permit certain activities. Unfortunately, as every state sets its own legislation it makes it rather unclear as to what an individual can or can’t do across the country.
How does Florida fare with gambling?
As you have read, Tampa is home to a very large and well-equipped casino. Does this mean Florida is open for business when it comes to gambling? Well, you might not want to put any money on it.
Florida has some great casinos to visit but it also has some very strict rules when it comes to betting of any type. While it allows some casinos to operate and card rooms that all pay tax to the State of Florida, certain other areas are out of bounds.
Sports betting is illegal in Florida and so is operating a gaming room without a license, much as it would be anywhere. However, this law also covers friends playing card games at home for small amounts of money.
Anyone who hosts a game of poker with a group of friends that involves winnings of more than $10 on one hand, or game, is breaking the law. Anyone who runs an illegal gaming room or house faces up to 5 years in prison. Pretty harsh for a few hands of Texas Hold ‘em.
However, the casinos, jai alai games, horse racing, and the state lottery are all ok to gamble on. This begs the question, are the harsh gambling laws there to protect morality and the people, or just tax revenues for the state?
Online gambling and casinos
Many people love playing in a casino online where you can enjoy poker, blackjack, roulette, and of course Las Vegas-style slot machines with potentially big wins. However, not all American states like these casinos.
Once again the law is blurry as online gambling is regulated at both federal and state levels. The Wire Act of 1961 was put in place to make it harder for bookmakers to take bets from anyone via telephones or other wire communications. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 has similar stipulations and makes it against the law for anyone to accept payment for a wager.
These laws lead many to believe they are unable to use online casinos or sportsbooks in the USA, when in reality states such as New Jersey, and Pennsylvania allow all types of online gambling. This includes the three main types of online gambling, casinos, poker, and sportsbooks.
One way around this is to use an overseas website like online casino Deutschland, and as they don’t come under US law they are legal, at a federal level at least.
Where can you bet legally?
Due to the differences in laws across all the states and the ever-changing legal situations, it is very hard to give an up-to-date, accurate list but here are the safest places to gamble in.
- Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia – All types allowed.
- Colorado, New York – All types of gambling allowed in person. No online gambling.
- Utah, Texas, Hawaii, South Carolina, Alaska, Tennessee, Alabama – Either illegal to gamble or heavily restricted.
Utah and Hawaii are two states that chose not to legalize gambling in any form and this even includes charitable forms such as raffles. Utah is one of the few states that has also not allowed tribal casinos unlike the majority of the US.
Out of all the types of gambling that are restricted, online gambling, and sports betting are the most tightly controlled. For anyone wanting to see a clear picture of where sports betting is allowed ESPN has a handy up-to-date map.
As far as online gambling laws are concerned, it is illegal to gamble this way in some states but the law is aimed at where companies physically base themselves. An offshore casino shouldn’t cause any concern and the likelihood of being prosecuted for spinning a virtual roulette wheel is minimal.
Gambling laws are constantly being reviewed across the states and there may soon be changes to the betting laws in Florida as they look to legalize sports betting.
Many states have seen how much tax revenue can be made from legal gambling while other regions such as Hawaii stick to their guns and refuse any type of gambling. So, if you are a Brit traveling to Hawaii you best forget about the horses, poker, and even bingo for your vacation.