Comparing US and Russian online casino laws

The legalization of the online casino sector in the US, which has followed in the wake of sports betting legalization, has led to online casinos becoming available to residents of a handful of states. More states are likely to follow in 2022 and 2023 as state legislatures work their way through the remaining regulatory and legislative issues.

Other nations have been going down a similar path, updating their rules on the legalisation of online casinos, but progress in some nations has been slow and stumbling such as in Russia where sites such as, now have the opportunity to help their readers with finding the best online casinos.

Russia is a good example. Gambling was illegal in the Soviet Union, but after the collapse of the Soviet regime, the business was legalized and swiftly expanded. Casinos and slot halls sprung up with minimal control, and the business gained a notoriously bad reputation.

The government struggled to regulate the sector because it lacked an efficient regulatory framework.

In December 2006, legislation was introduced that severely restricted the business, limiting casino gambling, including slot machines and related devices, to certain designated districts. Meanwhile, although internet gambling was outright banned, bookmaking remained legal throughout Russia, and online sports betting was eventually legalized, leaving online casino gambling still illegal.

This confusion is similar to the tangled and complicated process of legalization in the US. In some states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the online gambling situation is clear and fully open. All sports betting and online casino betting is legal. In fact, New Jersey, which was centrally involved in the legal action that eventually liberalized sports betting, has recorded a total sports betting handle of over £25bn since 2018. Online casino gambling is also thriving.

However, in other states, the situation is not as clear. As of March 2022, there are 21 states that offer online gambling in one form or another, but only six states that offer online casino betting: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Delaware and Connecticut. Six states also offer online poker, but confusingly, not the same six. You can play online poker but no other online casino games in Nevada, while Connecticut has not yet legalized online poker.

Three more states: Indiana, Illinois and Louisiana, are reported to be considering legalizing online casino gaming, but there is no clear timetable for that process.

In Russia, the main issue appears to have been that the law and regulations had not caught up with the internet. The default position was that all online gambling was wrong, but when widespread online sports betting became apparent, a decision was made to legalize rather than attempt to prevent this activity.

In the US, the issue may partly be one of a deep-rooted hostility to any form of gambling in some quarters, combined with the legacy of the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). These disputes were in many ways the precursor to the legalization of sports betting debate.

Essentially, the arguments over DFS boiled down to whether this form of contest could be considered a game of skill, which should be legal, or a game of chance, which should not. In many ways, this is an arbitrary distinction. While DFS could technically be said to be a game of skill, the vast majority of those who play DFS will not make a profit. The same argument applies to sports betting. A tiny number of skilled bettors may make a profit, but the majority of customers will lose money.

However, the US betting scene shared some similarities with Russia. Sports betting, though illegal in most states, was widespread, and a deeply embedded part of culture, often facilitated by organized crime. To an extent, legalization was simply recognizing something that was already happening and bringing a degree of control and oversight to this area, while freezing out the criminal element.

Unfortunately, the same cannot really be said of the casino world. A handful of states now have legal real-world casinos, and there may not appear to be a pressing need for online casinos specifically. Indeed, in some states, the retail casino sector is a barrier to the creation of this potential competitor.

Nevertheless, as more of us become used to betting on sports through ourmobile devices, it is likely to be an increasingly strange anomaly that online casino games are not also available. As many US states have found, there is a large pool of untapped revenue out there, which can potentially benefit a wide range of infrastructure projects for the benefit of the wider community.



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