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US gambling statistics – the current states who play


There’s no denying that putting gambling and the US into the same sentence is certain to cause instant confusion, which really comes as no surprise.

Despite the gambling laws being changed over three years ago, allowing each US state to make its own decisions, it’s still a really mixed bag across North America.

Irrespective of the legality, US citizens love to gamble and according to industry research the US gambling market as a whole is worth around $260 billion per annum. That figure equates to every US adult spending in the region of $800 on gambling, every year.



A case in point - how does it work for New Jersey?

As we already mentioned, each state has its own take on gambling and decides what is and isn’t permitted. To give you an idea of how one state has handled it, we have selected New Jersey, especially as it was the very first US state to jump on board the gambling bandwagon.

NJ has opted to take a very liberal approach and permits all of the following online gambling activities:



  • Casino games
  • Poker
  • Lotteries
  • Horse racing
  • Fantasy sports

Online sports betting also has the green light, with just two exclusions: state-based college sports and all high school sports. Also, after a year-long wait for a senate hearing, as of 21 July 2021, NJ now also permits betting on esports, provided it is via a NJ licensed operation naturally.

How does licensing work in NJ?

There are nine land-based casino brands in Atlantic City, of which seven are authorised by the New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement (NJ DGE). Some have more than one land-based outlet, so between them there are currently 33 licensed online gambling operations. In addition there are three racetracks which offer online horse betting and sportsbook pool betting.

The system works well, as the online operators selected by the casinos are all of the highest quality and have an excellent reputation in other parts of the world, which is another bonus for NJ residents.It’s easy to spot them, as the NJ DGE badge will be proudly displayed on their websites.

The NJ DGE has left very little to chance in any direction. In order to prevent gambling outside of state lines, all apps associated with online gambling operations are required to include a geo-locator which prevents any wagering outside of NJ state lines.

The cost of licensing in New Jersey

Running an online casino or sportsbook comes at a substantial cost for operators. Each NJ DGE license costs $100k this is for the land-based affiliate to be authorised. Online gambling licenses cost a further $400k each, plus an additional $250k per operation for responsible gambling fees, the latter going towards costs associated with problem gambling in the state.

NJ state also collects standard betting taxes for every wager placed, with a higher percentage applied to different types of online gambling:

  • Sports betting (including esports): at a casino 8.5%, online 13%
  • Horse betting: trackside bets 8.5%, online 9.25%
  • Casino games: in-house 8%, online 15%

Despite the high cost of operating in the US, many top names in the online gambling world are well-represented in New Jersey having been carefully selected by their land-based casino partners.

Other US states

There are currently 22 US states which permit some form of online wagering. Some states like PA and Michigan, operate in a very similar way to NJ, whilst hardcore anti-gambling states Utah and Florida, remain unmoved from their principles. Some other states have already filed their depositions, but the remainder seem to be playing a waiting game before making a move.

The real joker in the pack is Nevada. Odd as it may seem Las Vegas and Nevada state have yet to license any online operations. Although this might seem strange considering that Vegas is the epicentre of the world for gamblers, it is undoubtedly due to Nevada’s desire to protect its guaranteed income from existing land-based premises, as well as the massive amount of cash they bring in from tourism.

Changes happen very quickly so anyone who happens to live in a US state that has not so far legalised, needs to be patient, who knows what tomorrow’s news might bring?


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