For those who enjoy going to Las Vegas but have not yet played online casino games, I have no doubt many would enjoy the experience. Why should it have to end there? Now there are real online casinos for USA players that are legitimate sites, where gambling using real money is legal and better than traveling.
History of Online Gambling for Americans
From the perspective of Americans, in the earliest periods of gaming during the 1990s all the action was coming from offshore USA online casino sites located mostly in Antigua. The laws about Americans playing at online casinos were unclear until 2002 when the U.S. Justice Department started to take legal action to stop Americans from playing with real money. Then in 2006, Congress passed a new law called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which targeted the banking transactions necessary to play online. This essentially shut down all online gambling opportunities for Americans.
It was not until 2010, with the passing of the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act that online gambling under certain restrictions became legal in the USA. This new law required that online gambling be regulated under the jurisdictions of the states where legal in-person casino gambling already existed. The specifics of how each state would implement the regulations according to the requirements under Federal Law were then up to each individual state.
According to CBS News, Nevada made online poker legal in 2001. Online gambling then became legal in Delaware in 2013. New Jersey made online gambling legal in 2013 also for online poker, casino games, and slot play, but not sports betting. Currently, ten other states are trying to pass laws to permit legal online gambling.
In all cases, to play legally in the United States, a person must be physically located in the state where they are playing and prove that they are not a minor. Each of the three states that currently do allow legal online gambling have strict rules, which are:
Since 2001, there are two casinos currently approved to offer online poker. Nevada uses GPS locator smartphone technology combined with a person giving their social security number for identification.
Online gambling has been legal in the State of Delaware since 2013. A player must either be a resident of Delaware or a visitor to Delaware. While playing online, they must be physically located in the state. Delaware also uses GPS location capabilities of the mobile phone system and requires that players have a mobile phone to play.
New Jersey Law
New Jersey closely followed Delaware in 2013 and using the same smartphone technology to make sure the person is physically in the state and verifies age using social security numbers.
The Gray Area of Offshore Gambling
After the banking problems caused by the USA were overcome, a new group of legitimate offshore online casinos started once again accepting American players. Just be aware that even if it is possible to play online in offshore casinos, your money may still be at risk of seizure by the long-reaching arms of the U.S. Federal government. In the infamous case officially named the Southern District of New York Action Against Online Poker Players, which occurred 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice seized over $34 million belonging to over 27,000 individuals who were playing peer-to-peer online poker. This money was in the U.S. banking system.
An American person that plays online in offshore casinos that now once again accept cash deposits to play real cash games from American players will probably never be arrested for breaking the law, but still have some chance of losing the cash in their accounts. Enforcement actions by U.S. authorities against foreign operations that are operating legally in the countries where they are domiciled are difficult, but not impossible.
Americans physically present in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have clear options for legal online gambling. Other states are coming onboard soon. Americans can find offshore (non-American) casinos that accept their money once again, but it is not technically legal for Americans to play. This legal question is only according to American law, but not according to the foreign laws. That is the current update as of April 2015 to let you decide what the prudent thing to do is. Watch out for scammers and tricksters if you do decide to try offshore online casinos and do not risk much money, at least at first. It is gambling after all.