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Casinos in the United States: Where It’s Legal (And Some History)

Gambling has a long and storied history in the United States, from the early days of colonial settlements to the glitzy casinos of today. While gambling was once largely prohibited across the nation, the landscape has evolved over time. 

The History of Casinos in the USA

Gambling was a common pastime among early American settlers, often used to raise funds for public projects. However, a wave of moral reform movements in the 19th century led to a widespread anti-gambling sentiment. This culminated in the outright banning of gambling activities in many states by the early 20th century.

The state of Nevada legalised casino gambling in 1931 and was the first to do so. This paved the way for the development of the famous Las Vegas Strip, becoming a major tourist destination for the general public and celebrities alike.

Image from Clark County Nevada via X

The tide began to turn in the late 20th century as states faced fiscal challenges and sought alternative revenue sources. The introduction of state-run lotteries in the 1960s and 70s marked the first steps towards the legalization of certain forms of gambling. These lotteries were often justified as a means to fund education and public services.

The Emergence of Legal Casinos

The real turning point for gambling in the United States came with the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988. This federal law allowed Native American tribes to operate casinos on their reservations, provided they negotiated compacts with their respective state governments. This led to the proliferation of tribal casinos across the nation, particularly in states like California, Oklahoma, and Florida.

In the late 20th century, a handful of states began legalizing casino gambling beyond tribal lands. Nevada had already established itself as a gambling mecca with Las Vegas a soaring success, but other states started recognizing the potential economic benefits of legal casinos. New Jersey’s Atlantic City, for instance, became a prominent gambling destination on the East Coast.

Photo by Sung Shin on Unsplash

Many states were attracted to the potential economic benefits of legal casinos, including job creation and increased tourism. This incentive led more states to consider passing laws that would permit the legalisation of casino gambling.

Current Landscape of Legal Casinos

Several states now have legalized commercial casino gambling. These states often have a mix of tribal and commercial casinos, offering a variety of gaming options to residents and tourists alike. Some of the states where casinos are legal include: Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio and Michigan.

The history of gambling in the United States has been marked by shifts in public opinion, economic considerations, and legislative changes. While gambling was once considered taboo, it has become an accepted form of entertainment and a massive revenue source for many states. From the early days of lotteries to the emergence of tribal and commercial casinos, the landscape of gambling continues to evolve, reflecting the changing attitudes of society and the pursuit of economic opportunities.

This trend continued into the 21st century, leading to a diverse and thriving casino industry in the United States and beyond.

Exploring the Most Popular Online Casino Operators in the USA

The world of online casinos has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, with the USA being no exception. As more states legalize online gambling, a plethora of casino operators have emerged to cater to the increasing demand for online casino experiences.

Image by MARHARYTA MARKO for iStock by Getty Images

The reasons for their increased popularity over the years are likely to be:

  • Convenience and accessibility – people can gamble from the comfort of their own home or on-the-go via their phones or tablets and no longer need to have access to a physical casino
  • Safety and security of players personal and financial information as advanced encryption technologies as well as regulatory oversight contribute to a sense of trust among players
  • Payment options – credit cards, cryptocurrency, e-wallets are all acceptable forms of payment on an online casino
  • Bonuses and promotions – may online casinos will offer several enticing bonus options and promotions to attract new players as well as loyalty programs to give added value to those who might be in for the long haul
  • Pandemic influence – the COVID-19 experience led to the closure of many physical casinos, prompting more people to try out the online experience as a substitute for their entertainment needs.

It’s important to note that while online casinos have become popular, the legality and availability of them can vary by state as each has its own regulations and approach to gambling. However, here are some of the most widely used online casino operators in the USA today, highlighting their features, game offerings, and overall popularity.

BetMGM: BetMGM stands out as one of the leading online casino operators in the USA. Backed by MGM Resorts International, it offers a comprehensive gaming experience that includes a wide array of slots, table games, and live dealer options. The operator is known for its user-friendly interface, seamless mobile app, and attractive bonuses for new and existing players.

DraftKings Casino: Renowned for its daily fantasy sports platform, DraftKings has successfully ventured into the online casino market. The platform boasts a diverse selection of casino games, ranging from classic slots to innovative live dealer games. The integration of sports betting with casino gaming has contributed to its popularity, attracting both sports enthusiasts and casino gamers alike.

FanDuel Casino: Similar to DraftKings, FanDuel has leveraged its daily fantasy sports success to expand into the online casino realm. The operator offers a well-rounded gaming platform with a focus on user experience. Its partnership with popular software providers ensures a diverse range of games, while its integration with the FanDuel sportsbook adds an extra dimension of excitement.

Caesars Online Casino: With a name synonymous with luxury and entertainment, Caesars offers an impressive online casino platform. Players can enjoy an extensive library of games, coupled with enticing promotions and rewards. The operator’s tie-ins with its brick-and-mortar properties provide an added layer of trust and familiarity for players.

Golden Nugget Online Casino: Golden Nugget has established itself as a frontrunner in the online casino landscape. Its robust game selection, featuring titles from various software providers, caters to a broad spectrum of players. The operator’s commitment to player safety, along with its innovative features, such as the Golden Nugget Live Dealer, contributes to its popularity.

Resorts Casino Online: Resorts Casino brings the thrill of Atlantic City’s gaming scene to players across the USA. The operator’s online platform provides a plethora of casino games, along with exclusive titles that can only be found on its website. Its loyalty program and regular promotions contribute to its appeal among players.

The landscape of online casino operators in the USA is continuously evolving, with new players entering the market and existing ones innovating to meet player demands. As the online gambling industry continues to flourish, players can expect even more exciting developments and opportunities in the realm of online casino gaming. Remember to gamble responsibly and stay informed about the regulations in your state.

James Fallows

James Fallows

A qualified sports journalist, James is more than familiar with all aspects of the gambling world. At The Curious Gambler, James is keen to delve deeper into what makes this billion-dollar industry tick and offer up some well-learned advice along the way.