Which States Ban Online Gambling?

Map of the United States, Mobile Phone With Mobile Casino on Screen and A Red X Over the Phone

Many states drafted their laws on live gambling decades ago. Therefore, most people who live in these jurisdictions have a good idea on what they legally can and can’t gamble on.

Online gambling laws, however, are a different story. Despite the existence of internet gambling for over a quarter century, some states haven’t got around to updating their laws

That said, you might have no idea on if your state bans betting online. If you’re in the dark, you should check out the following post, which discusses several states that outlaw internet gambling.

States that Explicitly Ban Online Gambling

In most states, mobile gambling is either regulated or a gray area. The latter case means that a state hasn’t taken a strong stance for or against the activity.

However, the following 6 states leave no doubt about the matter. They have all outlawed internet gambling as it pertains to operators and/or players.

Louisiana

The Bayou State specifically mentions that “gambling by computer” where one “risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit” is illegal.

It goes on to note that people can’t legally gamble via “the Internet, World Wide Web, or any part thereof by way of any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, or any server.”

Few states ban online gambling as succinctly as Louisiana. Their penal code has some teeth behind it too because a first offense is punishable by up to six months in jail. Luckily, nobody has ever been busted for this crime in the Bayou State.

Montana

The Big Sky State was one of the first jurisdictions to prohibit online gambling. It did so in 2005 through statute 23-5-112 (21)(a).

This penal code notes that it’s illegal to offer “internet gambling, by whatever name known” and accept any form of payment for this service.

Montana’s anti-internet gambling law is aimed at operators. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about getting busted as a player.

Oregon

According to Statue 167.019, “A person engaged in an Internet gambling business many not knowingly accept” money from Oregon residents. This law adds that accepting unlawful gambling payments through credit card, check, EFT, or “any other form of financial transaction” is illegal.

Oregon is another state that aims its anti-online gambling laws at operators. It also notes that the punishment for this crime is a Class C felony.

Statue 167.019 doesn’t mention anything about the players. That said, you can place internet bets in Oregon with little fear.

Guy on Laptop Playing Online Roulette

South Dakota

The Mount Rushmore State outlaws internet gambling in a roundabout way. As per Chapter 22-25A, it notes that “those in the gambling business” aren’t to make online wagers.

Anybody who works at or operates a casino in South Dakota faces felony charges for betting online. The penalty for a first offense is a fine worth up to $10,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year.

South Dakota is mainly trying to keep its own casino operators from running an internet gambling business. Its language doesn’t take aim at offshore operators or regular online gamblers.

Washington

The Evergreen State features the worst of the worst online gaming laws. According to RCW 9.46.240, any operator or player who engages in internet gambling faces a Class C felony.

This law bars anybody from “transmitting or receiving gambling information by telephone, telegraph, radio, semaphone, the internet, a telecommunications system, or similar means.”

The maximum penalty for a Class C felony is up to a $10,000 fine and 5 years in prison. Fortunately, Washington has never arrested anybody for simply gambling online.

However, the state’s Gambling Commission did arrest somebody for operating a fantasy NASCAR site. David Watkins was busted in 2011 for running FantasyThunder.com for more than a decade.

Special circumstances surrounded Watkins’ case, though. He was keeping half of the entry fees as commissions, which led to numerous complaints.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin is similar to South Dakota in that its anti-gambling laws are meant to bar in-state operators. Clause 6 in Statue 945.01 notes that any type of wire communication for the purposes of operating a gambling site is illegal.

The Badger State leaves out any mention of internet gamblers. That said, you shouldn’t have to worry about placing online bets here.

States with Regulated Markets Ban Offshore Gambling Sites

In contrast to the states covered above, some jurisdictions have fully legal and regulated online casinos, poker rooms, and/or sportsbooks. You can legally place online bets in these markets so long as you’re using a licensed site.

Of course, the same states want to protect their regulated markets. They don’t go to the trouble of drafting legislation, voting on it, and setting up regulatory rules for nothing.

States with regulated online gambling ban offshore sites. The latter are located in foreign countries and serve markets without obtaining the proper licensing.

United States Flag, Person on Laptop Surrounded by Casino Chips

For their part, most offshore gambling sites restrict states with regulated markets. They do this to avoid clearly violating any jurisdictions’ laws.

Of course, you can still get away with playing at these sites in gray markets. These gray markets haven’t taken any notable action towards or against internet gambling. Therefore, offshore sites feel comfortable operating in these jurisdictions.

Should You Bother Gambling Online in a State that Bans It?

Most bans on internet gambling are meant to dissuade operators. States that take this approach want to scare offshore sites away.

Oftentimes, these bans serve their intended purposes. The average offshore gambling site will restrict players from states that prohibit unregulated gaming/betting.

Washington, however, makes it a felony to either offer or partake in unregulated gaming. It deems the act of playing at an illegal gambling site to be a Class C felony.

This Class C felony carries maximum punishments of up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Therefore, you should definitely consider avoiding internet gambling in the Evergreen State.

You should probably not gamble online in other jurisdictions that ban the activity as well. You’ll be committing a crime if your state specifically notes that partaking in online gambling is illegal.

Of course, you’re still unlikely to get arrested even if you gamble online in a state that takes aim at players. Law enforcement doesn’t particularly care about this crime when they have much more important matters to worry about.

Everything depends upon how much you love mobile gambling and how far you’re willing to go. Provided you’re okay with the small chance that you’ll get busted, then you might still consider placing Illegal bets online.

What to Do If Internet Gambling Is Prohibited in Your State

If you live in any of the states discussed before, you may wonder what your options are. Here are three routes that you can consider taking if online gambling is outlawed in your state:

  • Play anyways and violate the law.
  • Cross state lines and play somewhere else.
  • Look for live gambling opportunities in your state.

Many people exercise the first option, even when it’s illegal. They have little fear of getting caught when considering that law enforcement doesn’t care much about chasing internet gamblers. Of course, the downside is that gambling online where prohibited is still a crime.

Dice and Casino Chips on a Laptop Keyboard

The second option is only feasible when you live near a state border. Furthermore, you also need to live near a state that offers regulated mobile gambling, or at least allows the offshore variety.

You can always play at a live casino, poker room, or sportsbook in the absence of online options. The downside to this, though, is that you’ll need to travel. Furthermore, you may only be looking for internet options.

That said, no perfect alternative exists when your state bans mobile gambling. The good news, though, is that you at least do have some alternative routes.

In Summary

If you like online gambling, then you’ll ideally live in a state that supports it. At the very least, you’ll live somewhere that ignores offshore sites.

Unfortunately, some states do ban online gambling. You won’t be able to legally place internet bets in these cases.

Some gamblers violate the laws anyways and continue playing online. They have little fear when considering the lack of internet gambling-related arrests. If these arrests occur, they’re almost always aimed at operators.

Provided you don’t want to violate the laws in your jurisdiction, you can visit a neighboring state or play at land based casino. Either of these routes are legally accepted alternatives when mobile gambling is banned in your state.