Today’s question isn’t one question, but probably 50 we’ve received since Flip The Switch launched:
Is it legal to play real money gaming in [state name here]?
When it comes to iGaming, otherwise known as online real money gaming casinos, many players get frustrated when they realize it’s not available in their state. Many want to know why.
It’s a simple question that comes down to the fact that iGaming, just like other forms of gambling such as a lottery or physical casinos, is determined at the state level.
As of right now, only seven states have legalized some form of iGaming. It is available today in Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Rhode Island has approved iGaming expansion in its state, which is expected to become available in 2024. In every case so far, you don’t have to be a resident to participate; you only have to be physically present in the state to play.
Other questions tend to pop up, such as “why not my state?” The question has come up in some other states in recent years, but the reasons for approving it or not vary. New Jersey legalized iGaming as a way to strengthen the casinos in the state, whereas Nevada doesn’t allow it, presumably to protect all the physical casinos that exist today.
Connecticut legalized it as part of a broader update of their agreement with the two tribes that operate casinos in Connecticut; Rhode Island in turn legalized it to strengthen the casinos run by Bally’s there. States adjacent to those who allow it today have been most open to considering the question – for instance, New York legislators have been discussing it, although nothing has passed just yet.
The legalization of iGaming has moved much more slowly than that of sports betting, which in the five years since it was legalized has been approved in about 30 states. Some states weren’t eager to legalize both at once. Some may turn to iGaming as a way to boost revenues in the future when their budgets are struggling.
Ultimately, this will be an evolving list, as states continue to contemplate and, in some cases, approve the legalization of iGaming. Players who don’t live in the states where iGaming is approved today can still visit nearby states that have legalized it if they wish to play, just as they can physical casinos if their area doesn’t have a local casino.
There’s also other ways to play games online, such as free-to-play social casinos. Some social casinos have a sweepstakes element that can offer the chance to redeem for prizes.
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