How to Gamble Online – a Guide for Gambling in the US

Kane Pepi
Last updated: | 18 min read

how to play at an online casinoNowadays, gambling online is drawing more attention than offline. More sports bettors and casino players are appreciating the convenience of gambling from anywhere using smartphones and tablets. However, if you’re interested in how to gamble online in the United States, there are some key details to note.

First, the US legal landscape regarding iGaming is relatively complex since it varies from one state to another. Additionally, there are different forms of online gambling. It helps to know these types so you can choose one that best suits your preferences. Furthermore, since you’re playing with real money, you’ll want to know the various payment methods you can use. We’ll discuss all these and more in this detailed guide on how to gamble online in the US.

Introduction to Online Gambling in the US


Gambling in the United States traces its origin to over 300 years ago. In the 1680s, people, especially the wealthy class, were already betting on horse racing. However, with time, lotteries eventually became the most popular form of gambling.

Notably, lotteries helped the initial American colonies raise funds for their operations. The activity was so popular that, in 1769, when the British Crown restricted gambling, it led to severe conflicts among the colonies. These disputes were one of the core factors that subsequently influenced the American Revolution.

Online gambling was introduced to the United States following the introduction of the Internet. Microgaming, the renowned casino game provider, launched one of the first online casinos — The Gambling Hub. The site went live in 1994. Two years later, in 1996, Planet Poker launched as the first online poker room.

To date, poker is still a primary feature in the US online gambling space, along with casino games and sports betting. So, if you want to learn how to gamble online, these three are the main categories to focus on. However, before you start, you should first confirm if the activity is permitted in your state.

Is Gambling in the US Legal?


Online gambling in the United States is legal at the federal level. However, states are at liberty to make their own gambling laws. As a result, the activity is permitted in some states as prohibited in others.

Some regions allow some types of gambling and restrict others. For instance, a state may certify sports betting and gambling on horse racing as legal but prohibit casino gaming. Sports betting is currently the most favored in terms of legality for online gambling in the United States.

Which States Support Online Gambling?

Up to 24 states (about half the total number of states in the US) allow online sports betting within their borders. Meanwhile, only six states support online casino gambling: Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Michigan, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey also support online poker gambling, with Nevada joining the list.

Some notable states in the US where online gambling is prohibited include California, Texas, and Washington. However, you may still want to check out how to gamble online in California, as there are hopes that the state will allow sports betting soon.

States Where Online Casinos are Legal April 2024

  1. Delaware
  2. Michigan
  3. New Jersey
  4. West Virginia
  5. Connecticut
  6. Michigan

States Where Sports Betting is Legal April 2024

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. Colorado
  4. Connecticut
  5. Delaware
  6. Florida
  7. Illinois
  8. Indiana
  9. Iowa
  10. Kansas
  11. Kentucky
  12. Louisiana
  13. Maine
  14. Maryland
  15. Massachusetts
  16. Michigan
  17. Mississippi
  18. Montana
  19. Nebraska
  20. Nevada
  21. New Hampshire
  22. New Jersey
  23. New Mexico
  24. New York
  25. North Carolina
  26. North Dakota
  27. Ohio
  28. Oregon
  29. Pennsylvania
  30. Rhode Island
  31. Tennessee
  32. Vermont
  33. Virginia
  34. Washington
  35. West Virginia
  36. Wisconsin
  37. Wyoming

how to play at an online mobile casino

Types of Online Gambling

Sports Gambling

With sports betting, you simply bet on the outcome of different sports events. There are many sportsbooks in the US offering this form of gambling, so getting started won’t be difficult if it’s permitted in your region. To be sure, check our guide on legal sports betting states to be sure.

Typically, you can bet on a vast range of sports. These include popular ones in the US, like basketball, the NFL, soccer, tennis, volleyball, and much more. Each sport will have a variety of markets with odds that determine the probability of winning.

Popular Markets in Sports Betting

When it comes to markets, the common types in the US include:

  • Money line: Here, you bet on which team will win the game, and it’s the simplest market type.
  • Point spread: This involves betting on a handicap, so one team gets an advantage over another. For instance, you may pick the New England Patriots with a -6.5 spread against the New York Jets with a +6.5 spread. It means you predict the New England Patriots will beat the New York Jets by more than six points.
  • Over/Under (Totals): In this market, you’re betting that the total number of a particular outcome will exceed or be less than a number. Take a soccer game, for example; you can bet that the total goals scored in the match will be over 2.5. Practically, it means you predict the game will have more than two goals.
  • Props: With props, you bet on different outcomes within a game that are different from the final result. A good example is betting on a player’s performance, and this market is popular for sports like basketball, football, and soccer.

Casino Gambling

You can’t skip casino gambling when learning how to gamble online, as the activity is widespread. What makes this type of online gambling stand out is that you have a variety of games to choose from. Additionally, it’s already a favorite for many US gamblers at land-based locations.

The game variety for casino gambling mainly involves three categories: slots, table games, and live dealer. Let’s discuss each:

Slots

Slot sites are the most popular with US players because of their straightforward gameplay. All you have to do is spin reels and match symbols to win. The amount you win will vary depending on the type and number of symbols you match.

Interestingly, slots come with different themes, designs, layouts, and in-game features. As a result, you’ll have a massive variety to go with when gambling. There are also variants like progressive jackpot slots where you can potentially win millions of dollars. If you want to learn more on slots, check out our going on how to play slots online.

Table games

In this category, you’re looking at classic gambling games played at a casino table. These include the likes of blackjack, baccarat, and roulette. You’ll find these games in many different variants at online casinos.

Table games are popular for online gamblers in the US because the majority allow skill and strategy. An example is blackjack, where you can leverage techniques like the basic strategy to increase your chances of beating the dealer.

Live dealer

The majority of live dealer games are still table games like blackjack, baccarat, and roulette. However, the difference is that the rounds are conducted live. In other words, the cards and wheels and the dealer you engage with are not computer-generated. Instead, they’re live-streamed from actual land-based casinos or studios.

Hence, the main appeal of online gambling with live dealers is that you get something similar to the traditional experience. You’ll usually be able to interact with the dealer and other players as if you’re in a Las Vegas casino.

Sweepstakes & Social Gambling

Many states that prohibit online gambling allow sweepstakes and social gambling. For instance, Texas doesn’t support online sports betting or casino gambling. However, if you check how to gamble online in Texas, you’ll find that sweepstakes and social gambling are permitted.

If you’re wondering why, it’s because this type of betting doesn’t involve real money. Instead, as a player, you bet using virtual coins that have no real-world value. With sweepstakes casinos and sportsbooks, it’s all about the experience and having fun.

The majority of sweepstakes gambling sites use Gold Coins (GCs) and Sweepstakes Coins (SCs). You can play with both, but using SCs usually means you can redeem cash prizes. Additionally, if you run out of coins to play with, you may be able to purchase more from available packages.

Poker Gambling

The game of poker has a long history among gamblers in the US. If you live in a state where it’s permitted, you can quickly learn how to play online poker. Many casinos and sportsbooks have online poker rooms where you aim to beat other players by forming the best hand.

Like other card games, poker is available in different variants. However, the most popular ones are Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

In Texas Hold’em, the target is to create the best hand with two hole cards and five community cards. Many US gamblers consider it simple, hence why it’s a favorite. Gamblers who prefer more complexity choose Omaha, as the game features four hole cards.

Horse Racing Gambling

You’ll appreciate horse racing if you prefer straightforward gambling types. The option is available at US sportsbooks and typically falls under sports betting since you’ll be picking odds. Additionally, you get a variety of markets to go with.

To learn how to gamble online on horse racing, it helps to know the main betting types. There are four of them, including:

  • Win: With this option, you bet on the horse that’ll finish first.
  • Place: Making a Place bet means you predict a horse will finish first or second.
  • Show: The Show bet picks a horse to finish either first, second, or third.
  • Exotic bets: This bet type offers the best payouts as it comes with high odds. It includes exactas, trifectas, and superfectas — in each, you basically predict the correct order of multiple horses.

Lottery Gambling

Online lottery works like the many offline state lotteries in the United States. First, you’ll need to purchase a ticket with numbers or symbols. Then, you wait for the draw and compare if your ticket numbers or symbols are part of the results. If they are, you win.

Usually, there’s a jackpot that rewards the biggest prize if all your numbers or symbols are drawn. You can expect many different types of online lottery. One you may find interesting is instant lottery (known as scratch cards), where you see your results immediately.

Daily Fantasy Sports Gambling

This gambling type is available on many sportsbooks, and it involves virtual betting. You build a virtual team using real sports athletes and have them compete with teams of other players. As you gamble, you can win daily or weekly prizes.

Let’s take Major League Soccer as an example. You can partake in soccer fantasy gambling by building a virtual team using players in the MLS. Other bettors will do the same. Then, the sportsbook will set up a league where every team competes. You’ll score points based on the real-life performance of players in your team every matchday.

how to gamble - daily fantasy sports

How to Gamble Online in the US – Step-by-Step


Now you know the different types of gambling available, you’re set to start betting. For that, we’ve put together the simple step-by-step guide below to assist you.

Step 1. Check your Local Laws

As explained, the legality of online gambling in the US varies from one state to another. Additionally, a particular state may permit one form of gambling and restrict another. Therefore, before anything else, you should first check your local laws. If you’re in a region where online gambling is legal, you can proceed to step two.

Step 2. Select the Best Gambling Site

There are hundreds of sportsbook and casino sites in the United States you can sign up with. However, you can’t just use any platform. It’s essential you go for the best for a worthwhile gambling experience.

Notably, picking top gambling sites shouldn’t be difficult. Here are five key factors you should pay attention to:

Licensing and regulations

This is critical considering the varied legal landscape of online gambling in the US. So, while making your selection, confirm that the sportsbook or online casino has the necessary licenses and permits to offer online gambling services in your state. You may cause yourself trouble if you use unregulated betting sites.

Payment options

Knowing how to gamble online for real money means recognizing the importance of deposits and withdrawals. You fund your account so you can bet, and when you win, you have to withdraw your money. The supported payment methods will determine how difficult or easy these transactions are. As a result, the best you can do is select gambling sites with fast, convenient, and safe payment options and play in top credit card casinos, or casinos with payment methods of your choice.

Bonuses and promotions

It’s always better when a sportsbook or casino has quality promotions. These offers help boost your bankroll, while others can help you manage losses. For instance, a 100% deposit casino bonus will double your balance when you fund your account. Meanwhile, a cashback bonus will return a percentage of your lost bets, so the deficit won’t be 100%. You’ll want to check these and other bonuses and go with a gambling platform with valuable offers.

Customer service

The last tip here is to test the customer support team. Indeed, this is one way to know if an online gambling site is reliable. You may encounter issues or have inquiries at any time, and in such situations, what you need is a fast resolution. Generally, the best online casinos and sportsbooks will have 24/7 customer support via multiple channels like email, phone, and live chat.

Crypto gambling

Some players prefer crypto to fiat payment methods which is why they choose casinos that allow crypto and bitcoin gambling. These casino sites have similar offers like the regular ones, the only difference is that their licenses are issued by one of the offshore regulatory bodies.

Step 3. Register an Account

The next step in our guide to how to gamble online is to visit your selected online gambling platform and register an account. You should find this procedure simple and quick. Usually, you have to fill out a sign-up form with personal details like your name, email, and phone number. Then, you’ll create a username and password.

After registration, you have to verify your account. The initial verification involves confirming your phone number or email. Afterward, the gambling site may request you verify your identity by uploading valid documents. You must comply with these requirements as they’re necessary for legal reasons.

Step 4. Claim the Welcome Bonus

Among the many promotions a gambling platform may feature, the welcome bonus is the first you can claim. It’s available after you register and confirm your account. The exact bonus will vary from one site to another, but it’s usually a deposit match.

For instance, after signing up, you may get a 100% welcome bonus up to $1,000. The offer will usually come with a minimum deposit amount to become eligible. If it’s an online casino, you may get some free spins as an addition, and if you choose to play at crypto casinos, you’ll get bitcoin casino bonus plus free spins.

Step 5. Deposit Money to Your Account

You can’t gamble with real money without adding funds to your account. Already, we’ve highlighted that you may need to deposit to claim the welcome bonus. If you use a quality online betting site, you’ll have multiple payment methods to choose from.

We’ll discuss the best payment methods you can use subsequently. But after selecting your preferred one, all you have to do is specify the amount you want to deposit and follow the instructions. If the transaction is successful, the money should show up in your gambling account in seconds.

Step 6. Place Your Bets

This is the stage where you actually bet. Before you start, however, we advise you to create a budget. You need to specify how much you can comfortably use for gambling to avoid overspending.

For sports betting, you have to browse the available sports events and markets and pick your odds. Then, you set your bet amount on your slip and submit it. The total number of odds in your slip multiplied by the bet amount will define your potential winnings.

If you’re gambling at an online casino instead, you have to browse the available games on the website and pick one. Then, set your bet size and start playing.

Step 7. Withdraw Your Winnings

For many US gambling fans, the goal of learning how to gamble online is to eventually withdraw some winnings. However, it’s essential to always remember that gambling is a game of chance, and there is no guarantee of winning anything.

However, when you do land winnings, you’ll want to withdraw them. The process is quite similar to depositing, as you select your preferred payment method and set the amount you wish to cash out. Before you withdraw, however, ensure you’ve met all pending requirements. On most gambling sites, you must have completed the identity verification and satisfied the wagering conditions if you bet with a bonus.

How fast you receive your winnings will depend on your selected payment method. You should be able to confirm the withdrawal processing times from the gambling site’s terms and conditions. Also, note that nearly all crypto casinos are in fact instant withdrawal casinos.

Best Payment Methods for Online Gambling in the US


As stated, payment methods are critical for online gambling since they allow you to deposit and withdraw. Using poor payment channels can significantly affect your experience. Hence, you should only use the best ones as you learn how to gamble online for real money. Check them out below:

Credit/Debit Cards

This is a pretty popular payment option since most people have bank cards. You can use widely accepted types like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. However, note that if you use them for payouts, it could take multiple business days for you to receive your winnings. For example, for amex casinos, you’ll have to wait from 1 day to up to 2 whole weeks.

E-Wallets

You can opt for an e-wallet if you need a fast and convenient payment method. Options that fall under this category include PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller. These channels work for deposits and withdrawals, and payouts typically take only a few minutes. However, your payments may be subject to some charges — although they’re usually minimal.

Bank Transfer

Perhaps you’re a fan of traditional payments. If that’s the case, some US gambling sites will allow you to deposit by transferring directly from your bank account. However, the option is more common for withdrawals. Many bettors don’t go with bank transfers because the transactions usually take several business days and can attract substantial fees. Nevertheless, bank transfers are generally the best when dealing with large amounts.

Cryptocurrency

Do you want to know how to gamble online without a credit card, e-wallet, or any other fiat-related methods? A perfect alternative to consider is cryptocurrency. In other words, you’ll transact using digital coins like BTC, ETH, USDT, XRP, and DOGE. The primary advantage of crypto is anonymity since you only use a wallet address for payments. Additionally, the transactions are a lot faster than fiat methods.

However, you should check your local laws to confirm if using cryptocurrencies is allowed. That’s because digital coins have limited regulations in the US compared to fiat. Furthermore, cryptocurrencies are generally volatile, so you’ll want to keep track of market trends to avoid losing value from your winnings. We have compiled a list of the best crypto casinos with detailed reviews and bonus comparisons that you can choose from.

Mobile Payments

This payment method is becoming increasingly popular nowadays, as many US bettors prefer using their smartphones. Examples are services like Apple Pay and Google Pay that let you transact swiftly. Hence, you’ll enjoy fast payments at online gambling sites. But note that many online sportsbooks and casinos only support mobile payments for deposits.

US Legal Gambling Online FAQ

Can you gamble online for real money?

Yes, you can gamble online for real money. Online casinos and sportsbooks have a variety of payment methods you can use to deposit USD into your account. Then, you can play real money casino games or bet on sports events. If you win, you’ll also be able to withdraw your winnings as real money.

How do you do online gambling?

The first step is to choose a reputable online casino or sports betting site to use. Sports betting sites allow you to bet on the outcome of sports events. Meanwhile, with a casino, you can gamble on slots, blackjack, roulette, and baccarat.

Is there a way to win online gambling?

There’s always a chance to win if you play at legitimate sites. However, you should keep in mind that there are no guarantees and only play with money you are comfortable losing.

What is the safest way to gamble online?

The safest way to gamble online is to choose safe online casinos and follow responsible gaming practices. Generally, don’t bet more than what you can afford to lose. Additionally, use options like deposit, loss, and session limits to control how much time and money you spend gambling online.

How old do you have to be to gamble online?

You usually have to be 21 years old to gamble online. However, it largely depends on where you live. In some regions, the law permits bettors aged 18 and above to gamble online.

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