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The US online gambling industry has been filled with so many ups and downs. Since its early rise in the late 90s, there have been several debates about its legality and influence on the country’s economy. Due to the varying federal and state laws guiding it, there are still millions of bettors who are not sure if online casino gaming activities such as poker and slots are legal in the US.

To help you fully understand the online gambling industry in the US, we’ve come up with a detailed guide that covers the rise of the industry, the present conditions, and what the future holds. However, in case you also want to get involved with real money and free casino games such as slots demos with no download required, you can visit CasinoUSA for an in-depth review and analysis of the best platforms to play at.

History and Rise of Online Gambling in the US.

The world and America first got introduced to online gambling in 1994 when Antigua and Barbuda passed their Free Trade & Processing Act that allowed organizations looking to open online casinos to get official licenses. That same year, Microgaming launched the first online gaming software, and several others followed.

Due to the high amount of internet users in the US at the time, they made up a huge majority of online casino players. The rise of online gambling in the country prompted many to call out the Federal Wire Act, which, when interpreted, made online gambling illegal. But despite these debates, online gambling continued to grow in popularity in the US. In 1996, there were 15 gambling sites available to US players, and by 1997, the number had risen to 200.

Online Poker Boom and the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act

In 1998, Randy Blumer released Planet Poker, the world’s first online poker room. This was met with mixed reactions; while some praised the revolutionary technology, others criticized it. The following year, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act bill was introduced in the US Senate. This would prohibit any US citizen from engaging in any form of online gambling. The bill did not pass, and online gambling continued to grow. That same year, multiplayer online gambling was introduced.

Paradise Poker was also released as a competition for Planet Poker, and in no time, the US became the hub of online poker. The numbers grew with the launch of other sites like UltimateBet and PokerStars. In 2003, Chris Moneymaker made history when he won the 2003 World Series of Poker. The American poker star had won an entry to the prestigious tournament through a satellite tournament hosted by PokerStars and became the first online poker player to win a World Series. His win led to what is now termed the Poker Boom in 2003-2006 and greatly increased the popularity of online poker and casinos in the US.

Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) and Black Friday 

The speculations about the legality of online gambling in the US ended with the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). This act prohibited the acceptance of payment for any bet or wager from a US citizen and made it illegal on both state and federal levels.

The Act led to a sharp decline in the popularity of online gambling in the US as many organizations halted operations in the US. However, US players could still access offshore sites and a few sites that operated in the US. The final blow came in April 2011 when the US Department of Justice shut down the operation of the three major online poker card rooms in the US at the time (PokerStars, Absolute Poker, and Full Tilt Poker).

They seized their domains and accounts, effectively putting an end to their operations in the US. This day is referred to as Black Friday in the online gambling world and witnessed the end of major online gambling operations in the US.

Covid-19 and the Current State of the US Gambling Industry 

Despite the multiple laws prohibiting online gambling in the US, there are still millions of online casino players in the country. The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns saw the industry grow massively in the US Land casinos could no longer be accessed, and in search of an alternative, players began to source online gambling sites. In 2020, the US online gambling market grew to $8.7 billion and increased by roughly 10% to $9.5 billion the following year.

The Future?

Currently, there’s a significant rise in the legalization of online gambling in many states in the US. Economic analysts have highlighted the benefits of iGaming to the country’s economy, with the industry projected to register a CAGR of 17.34% by 2030.

Furthermore, with technologies like blockchain, VR/AR, and GIS being integrated into iGaming, there’s no denying that the industry will only grow to even greater heights. The US has a great history with gambling, and together with the huge amount of money attached to it, it won’t be long before the industry becomes fully legal. You can follow the latest updates on the US gambling industry at

The Bottom Line

The online gambling industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the US and is expected to grow even bigger in the coming years. Here, we covered the sector’s rise from its inception, its current state, and what the future holds for the industry.

Published by HOLR Magazine.

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