Legal online gambling did not exist in the United States before 2011. It was the year when the Department of Justice changed how the federal government interpreted the 1961 Wire Act. By issuing a legal opinion that connected the Wire Act to sports betting only and not the other forms of gambling, the Department of Justice cleared up the way for every state to adopt the new forms of online gambling. 

Which US states were first to adopt online gambling? 

New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada were the first states to react and fully legalize online gambling. The Garden State residents have thus gotten an opportunity to spin the reels on popular slots at an NJ online casino since 2013. Pennsylvania and West Virginia followed the pattern in 2017 and 2019 respectively, while Michigan legalized online casinos, poker, and sports betting in early 2021. Speaking of online sports betting, it has already been embraced by 10 states, following the 2018 abolition of PASPA. The residents of Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Iowa, Indiana, Colorado, and Illinois can thus place wagers on a wide array of sporting events around the globe. 

American sportsbooks tend to follow the trends from their British counterparts, and we can see massive growth in the number of markets available for the US punters. In some states, they can even bet on soccer transfers. For example, they can get odds for a potential Erling Haaland move to Manchester United. The above-described happenings represent a fantastic introduction to the main theme of the article. Following the mentioned changes in American gambling laws, we can finally combine the legal situation in this field in the United Kingdom and the United States. 

The main difference 

Legislation and law enforcement represent the key difference between the gambling laws in the two countries. The United States do not have a single governing body. Instead, the country gave each state the authority to regulate online gambling on behalf of its citizens. That’s why NJ online casinos can exist but Alaska online casinos not. Of course, there is always a chance for federal intervention, but the reality says there are as many as 51 distinct commissions in charge of the industry nationwide. 

As opposed to this, the whole gambling niche in the United Kingdom is fully controlled by a single body – the UK Gambling Commission. It controls pretty much everything you can think of when it comes to both online and land-based gambling. They deal with anything from licensing, arbitration guidelines, and payment procedures to setting operational parameters. 


US laws are much more complex when it comes to dealing with gambling revenues and taxation. The American operators and content providers are required to pay both state and federal taxes. The rates are different from one state to another and normally depend on the number of revenues earned. Additionally, the consumers of gambling services (the players) must pay both state and federal taxes on any net gambling revenue of $600 or more. The rates are higher for greater winnings. 

The situation is much clearer in the United Kingdom where the gamblers are not obligated to pay taxes on earnings, regardless of how big they may be. The operators and content providers, on the other side, need to pay licensing fees to provide gambling services in the country, as well as a flat percentage (15% in most cases) of money on gross revenues.  

Allowing foreign players 

The third significant difference between gambling laws in the two countries lies in the way in which their gambling laws treat foreign players. In the United States thus, no foreign resident is allowed to register at any online gambling hub in America. Moreover, if an American resident wants to play casino games in another state, they can do it only if they are physically located in that particular state at the moment of placing bets. As opposed to this, UK sports betting and casino operators are allowed to accept the residents of other countries as long as online gambling is permitted in their respective countries. 


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