Gambling Licenses

A review of gambling licenses and legislation for US online casinos

Online casinos in the US are becoming increasingly popular, as more States continue exploring and moving towards allowing their operation. Discover more about gambling licenses in the United States.

The United States already has a world-renowned casino culture, so we fully expect online casinos in the U.S. to continue growing and multiplying. Despite this, not many players in the U.S. are fully aware of the legal requirements that online casinos have, and the type of regulation and licensing associated with them.

Why are gambling licenses so important in the U.S.?

When we think of online gambling licenses for U.S. casinos, we think of them as being an essential form of insurance. This means that players which visit licensed online casinos are playing in a safe and secure environment.

Much in the same way that you should never take a ride in an uninsured vehicle, you should never play at an unlicensed online U.S. casino. An online casino gambling license shows that the casino operator has met all the guidelines, minimum standards, and other key requirements that are set by the regulator.

This is one of the main reasons why we will only ever promote regulated online U.S. casinos here at AmericanCasinoGuide! All the operators listed on our website offer games that are tested for fair gameplay, ensure their client’s personal and financial data are handled with care, and are trusted to ensure that they payout all client winnings. 

What are Gambling Control Boards in the U.S. and how do they operate?

Gambling licenses and activities in the U.S. are monitored and regulated by a wide range of State, Provincial, and National governing control boards. There are several boards that cover specific gambling activities, such as online casinos, lotteries, and sweepstakes.

New Jersey

The State of New Jersey is one of the few in the U.S. where players can gamble physically at a casino or at one of the many online casinos licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

The NJDGE is the law enforcement agency which is responsible for enforcing the Casino Control Act, which covers all physical and online casino gameplay. 

Weather players are visiting one of the many casinos in Atlantic City, or placing bets at top US online casinos such as BetMGM and Borgata, these will all be licensed by the NJDGE.

Welcome bonus betmgm casino
BetMGM Casino is a fully licensed and regulated online casino that offers new players risk-free first bets up to $1,000.

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State legalized online gambling during the summer of 2019, which was very welcome news, seeing as this state has the second-largest gambling market in the United States.

All online gambling licenses and activities in this state are monitoring and licensed by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which operates on the guidelines of the Gaming Act. This regulator oversees any legalized gaming activities in the State of Pennsylvania that produces significant review, such as horse racing, land-based casinos, lotteries, and online casinos.

In fact, players in Pennsylvania can now safely and securely play at a number of online casinos such as Betway Casino and DraftKings Casino.

Michigan

Michigan is one of the largest US States to legalize online casinos, after many years of having a very strange approach to online gambling. 

Residents and visitors to this state can visit the Michigan Gaming Control Board website for a full list of licensed and regulated operators, which include popular names such as BetRivers Casino and FanDuel.

Delaware

The State of Delaware is often referred to as the “The First State” for U.S. casino players, as it was the first one to ratify the constitution and legalize online gambling.

The Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement oversees all gambling activities in the state, which also include lotteries and horse racing, the latter of which is still very popular to this day. 

There are currently three main casinos that operate in this state, and they all have online gambling platforms.

Nevada

Despite the fact that Las Vegas is synonymous with casinos across the entire world, the State of Nevada has a bit of a strange relationship with online gambling. In fact, players cannot play online casino games apart from poker!

WSOP.com is the only site that players in Nevada can play poker legally and for real money. Its operations, together with all other land-based casino activity and licensing, are managed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Licensed online casinos can also offer live casino dealer games such as Live Poker by Evolution.

Gambling licenses in the U.S.

When it comes to gambling licenses in the U.S., the law currently not make any distinction between land-based or online casinos. 

Under Federal law, gambling is legal, with every state having discretion to allow or prohibiting the activity. This is one of the many reasons why the online gambling situation is so fragmented in the United States.

Another interesting issue that makes gambling licenses in the U.S. so different to those in other markets is that many land-based casinos operate their own online casinos as wells.

As we have already seen, state gambling licenses are administered and managed by a state gambling commission.

How do you get a gambling license?

As with other gaming licenses across the world, the application process in the United States is highly detailed and involves numerous background checks and investigations. Every single type of gambling activity, in certain places, and at certain times must be regulated. 

The most common types of gambling licenses issued by State authorities cover casinos, racing, lotteries, charitable gaming, and sweepstakes.

In order for a new online casino to apply for a gambling license in the U.S., they must:

  • Inquire with the Gaming Control Board or similar authority of their state about the licenses available
  • Fill in the application form with the necessary documentation, the latter which generally includes personal details, proof of source of funds, full business plan, bank statements for company accounts, customer T&Cs, anti-money laundering policies, responsible gambling procedures, and more.
  • Pay all the required application fees.
  • Allow enough time for the Gaming Control Board to review and process the application and corresponding documentation.
  • Receive your license and pay license fees
  • Start providing your online casino services to your customers.

What are the criteria for casinos to be licensed in the U.S.?

The general provisions by State Gaming Control Boards for providing companies with a gambling license will not change, although there may be some minor differences in the requests made by different authorities. There are some key criteria that casinos must meet in order to become licensed in the US:

A Good Reputation

As with any business, a good reputation is not only an asset to a company, but a fundamental requirement. In the US, this is seen as being a lack of criminal responsibility, verifiable identity, a proven credit track record, and a positive credit history for shareholders, directors, and other key employees of the company. 

In-depth Financial Summaries

When it comes to obtaining a casino license in the US, the company must have solid corporate structures and finances – this is important, especially when considering the checks and balances needed when dealing with clients’ money. It is also crucial for the authorities to determine whether the company has sufficient resources to conduct business in the field of online gambling. 

Reputable Casino Game Providers

Finally, it is imperative that online casinos provide their clients with access to safe and fair online casino games that are produced by vetted providers. As such, it is expected that new online casinos already have special deals in places with renowned providers such as SG Digital, Evolution, NetEnt, Pragmatic Play, and more.

Gonzo’s Quest by NetEnt is one of the most popular online slots for U.S. players, only available at licensed casinos.

Can a casino operate without a license in the U.S.?

In short, yes, there are many online casinos in the US that can operate without having a license. We always advise our readers to strictly avoid such operators, as not being licensed means that they are not accountable to penalties should they decide to not pay their customers any owed winnings.

As such, players should be fully aware of how to check is an online casino is licensed before depositing any money. This can be done by:

  • Looking for a license provider – these are always displayed on the home page
  • Check available banking options – only go for casinos with banking options you recognize
  • Withdrawal times – Standard operators generally have withdrawal times of up to 72 hours.
  • Minimum and Maximum deposit and withdrawal limits – licensed casinos are obliged to have such limits.

What are blacklisted casinos?

Some online casino operators in the US can also be untrustworthy, and we have a list of blacklisted casinos for you to check out. 

These online casino operators will generally do their best to lure players with the promise of very generous bonuses and promotions, only for them to take deposits and never pay out any winnings. 

Seeing as these online casinos are not held into account by a State Gaming Control Board, they can simply refuse to pay their clients winnings. These blacklisted casino can also use pirated versions of online casino games from trusted providers, as a way of fooling their clients.

Conclusion

The road to obtaining a gambling license in the US can be long, expensive, and complicated for online casinos. However, there are several new online casinos opening their platforms to US players, providing incredible new bonuses and promotions.

We always advise players to verify if an online casino is licensed before making any deposits, as these are the operators that are regulated by State Gaming Control Boards and can be trusted.

Frequently asked questions

In order for a company to apply for an online gambling license, they must complete an application for with the Gaming Control Board of the State in which they wish to provide online gambling services.
Each state can impose specific requirements for companies applying for a gambling license, but in general the authorities will look for a good company reputation, in-depth finance, and agreements with reputable casino game providers.
Online casinos need to have a gambling license in order to provide online gambling services to their customers as per federal law.