Wish you could make a bit of extra money during the pandemic? Take a look at this guide to learn whether or not you can use online gimbling sites legally.

The online gambling industry was predicted to grow by 13% between 2019 and 2020. That’s a massive year over year increased fueled in part by COVID-19.

Casinos across the country were forced to temporarily close as part of mitigation efforts. That forced many gamblers looking for online alternatives to gamble.

You’d find plenty of online gambling sites in your search to get your gambling fix. Are they legal?

Gambling has a long, complicated history in the United States. Online gambling is a bit more complicated than that.

Read on to discover if legal online gambling exists in the United States.

A Short Lesson About Gambling Laws

To help you understand the online gambling laws in the U.S., you should look to the past.

There are some types of gambling that are widely accepted, and others that aren’t. The level of acceptance impacts the legal status of online gambling sites.

You’ll see this level of acceptance translate to online gambling laws.

Gambling was largely legal in the late 19th century. By 1910, however, every state outlawed gambling. Nevada was the first state in 1931 to legalize casinos again.

Horse gambling became legalized in most states in the 1940s and 1950s. Horse racing was seen as an acceptable form of gambling, which is why the laws changed.

Another form of gambling started in the early 1960s when New Hampshire launched the first state lottery.

Believe it or not, the only form of gambling that was mostly legal was sports betting. It was outlawed in 1992 with the passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

Are Online Gambling Sites Legal?

The answer is a little complicated, thanks to the web of federal and state laws for different types of gambling. There are no federal laws that outlaw online gambling, whether you’re betting on sports, playing the lottery, or playing your favorite slot machine.

It’s up to the states to decide what forms of online gambling are legal.

Some states, like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have an open door where you can play the lottery, casino games, and bet on horses online.

Oregon lets you play the lottery online but doesn’t allow other types of gambling.

Other states, like Hawaii and Utah, have restrictive laws. Most forms of online gaming are illegal in those states.  

What about sports betting sites? Are they illegal? The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. That landmark decision opened the door for legal sports betting to happen all over the country.

New Jersey was the first state to open the door to sports betting and cleared the way for online sports betting sites. Other states have followed. Some states only allow in-person betting, while others legalized online sports betting.

It wasn’t an exaggeration to say it’s confusing. The best thing you can do is look at the laws in your state.

What Makes a Legal Online Gambling Site?

When you search for gambling sites online, there’s no doubt that you’re going to come across dozens of sites to gamble.

Your location determines the legality of online gaming sites. Since state laws oversee in-person and online gambling, certain sites are registered to legally operate in those states.

Gambling sites use location technologies to make sure their sites are available to people located in states where they’re registered to operate.

A gambling site registered in New Jersey isn’t available to residents of Pennsylvania or New York. You have to physically be in New Jersey to place a bet.  

Here’s the good news. You can gamble on sites that are based outside the U.S. The only caveat is that these sites aren’t governed by U.S. law.

How to Gamble and Win Online

Now that you know the legalities of online gambling sites, it’s time to have some fun.

Start with the types of gambling you want to do. Do you want to bet on horses or sports? You’ll want to download a sports betting app.

If you want to play slot games or live casino games, you need to find the best legit online casinos. Look at reviews of sites.

You can compare the sign-up bonuses and play demos of some games. That will help you speed up your understanding of the games.

 Are you playing casino games for the first time? Start out with slot games and bingo. These are the easiest games to understand that are perfect for beginners.

With bingo games, you’ll want to learn the different winning patterns of bingo. You can win with the standard horizontal or vertical straight lines. You can also win with a T pattern, W, Z, A, or even a wine glass.

Slot games have more ways to win online, too. There are more paylines in slot games than ever. Some slot games have 80 or more paylines.

You’ll also want to check the RTP of a slot game. This is the percentage of money that players win back. The higher the RTP, the more likely you’ll win.

Enjoy Gambling Online

Online gambling sites offer a safe alternative to visiting casinos in the middle of a global pandemic. Fortunately, online gambling is legal in some form in most states.

You may only be able to play the lottery online, but with massive jackpots becoming the norm, you can try your luck. It’s possible to play casino games on sites based outside of the U.S., but you need to do thorough research on the best and reputable online casino sites.

When you win big, you’re going to need to spend your money wisely. Check out the Money section of this site for smart financial tips.