Gambling online for real money is a popular pastime. It’s exciting, enjoyable, and can even be profitable. There are risks involved, too, which means real money gambling should be approached with caution.
This guide is all about betting and gaming in the United States. It’s incredibly comprehensive, and our aim is to teach you everything you need to know to gamble safely and responsibly. We focus on the online side of things and include details of the best real money online gambling sites for the USA.
Polls show that half of Americans have an unfavorable view of gambling for real money.
The other half view the gambling industry favorably. They believe that casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms create jobs, help local economies, and that it helps their communities.
What’s more is that 44% of Americans visited a casino in 2019 and 124 million Americans say they plan to visit a casino to gamble some time over the next 12 months. That’s a lot of people, and it doesn’t even take into account those using real money gambling websites.
What about you? Are you interested in becoming part of the statistic and learning how to gamble for real money? Because that’s what we’re going to help you with in this guide.
Here’s everything we’re going to cover.
The best online gambling sites for real money in 2020
Why Americans should consider gambling online for real money
The pros and cons to gambling for real money vs. for free
The types of real money online gambling USA sites offer
Gambling for money on your mobile device
Online banking options for US gamblers
The types of online gambling bonuses you can claim
An overview of the gambling laws in the United States
Tips for online gambling for real money in the US
Our goal is to show you what your options are and what to expect when you gamble online for real money in the United States.
And we’re going to start by showing you the best real money US gambling sites online today.
These are the best real money gambling sites for the USA. They’re also the safest. You’ll find everything you could want to play or bet on here, including casino games, poker, sports, you name it.
If you prefer a specific type of gambling, or if there’s a specific game you like to play, then you’re better off finding an online gambling site that excels in that area.
We make several recommendations for you below. You’ll find the top online gambling sites for real money slots, blackjack, Texas Hold’em, football betting, and much more.
Our recommendations are based on our decades of betting and gaming experience, as well as the hours we spent testing and reviewing every site.
You’ll love gambling online for real money at the sites we recommend. We’re sure of it.
Benefits of Gambling Online in the USA
There are more than 1,000 land-based casinos in the United States. You might even live right down the road from one.
So, with all the land-based casinos you could gamble at, why bother with real money online gambling?
You can gamble for less money. Most online casino table games start at $1 per hand. You can play for $0.01/$0.02 per hand at most US poker rooms.
You can gamble from home instead of having to visit a casino or sportsbook.
You can gamble online for real money on your smartphone.
Online casinos have hundreds of games, betting sites offer hundreds of betting markets, and poker rooms have dozens of poker tournaments to choose from at any given time.
Gambling websites have promotions you can’t get offline, such as deposit bonuses, free bets, and VIP rewards.
It’s easy to switch casinos and sportsbooks. You can go from one to the next in minutes.
You don’t have to dress up and you don’t have to deal with people or crowds.
It’s possible to play multiple games or tournaments simultaneously.
You don’t have to wait for games or seats to become available as much or for as long when you gamble online for real money.
This isn’t to say there aren’t reasons why you should gamble offline. We enjoy eating a nice dinner, seeing a show, and checking out the sights as much as anyone.
But between the cost and time it takes to enjoy all that, plus the added cost, many people simply can’t afford to gamble in land-based venue as much as they might like.
For those reasons, we think it makes more sense to gamble online in the US. It’s convenient, cost-effective, and accessible. And it’s never been easier than it is today to get started.
Signing up is simple at all of our recommended real money gambling sites for the USA. Try for yourself at El Royale Casino, where new customers can claim up to $12,500 in welcome bonuses.Visit El Royale Casino
Real Money Gambling vs. Gambling for Free
One of the unique benefits online gambling offers is the opportunity to play for free.
Yes, you read that right. You can play a Texas Hold’em tournament, blackjack, or five-reel video slot without spending a dime.
Land-based casinos can’t offer free money games. They only have so much space within their walls to work with. They need to fill that space with paying customers, otherwise, they won’t make money.
Real money US gambling sites don’t have this problem. They can offer their games for free without impacting their ability to make money. They can cater to both types of players.
In fact, offering their games for free makes sense because free money gamblers often become real money gamblers in the future.
It becomes a win-win scenario for both the casino and you.
Why Gamble Online for Free?
Here’s why you should gamble online for free.
To learn how to play games
To find a new game, variant, or machine you like
To practice a new strategy
To test a site’s software, games, and features
To just enjoy gambling online without spending anything
To test playing multiple games simultaneously
The common theme is that playing for free enables you to try or learn new things without risking any of your money.
You work hard for your money. It doesn’t make sense to blow it on a game you dislike or by screwing up a hand because you didn’t understand the rules.
Not if you don’t have to.
Why Gamble Online for Real Money?
Once you find your footing, it makes sense to transition to real money gambling online. Here are a few reasons why.
You can’t win real money playing with free money (except for poker freerolls, which US poker sites don’t offer as often anymore).
It’s not possible to win progressive jackpots.
Some (poker) strategies that work at free money games often won’t work at real money games.
It’s harder to get excited about playing a game when you don’t have any skin in the game.
There are some types of online gambling you can’t partake in for free. For example, you can’t play 99% of live dealer games for free. You can’t bet on sports for free. And you can’t play guaranteed poker tournaments for free.
You can only earn rewards like bonuses and cashback when you play for real money.
The common theme here is that gambling online for free isn’t nearly as much fun as it is when you get to win money. And you can’t win real money unless you play with real money.
Think about it like this.
You play a five-reel video slot and trigger a bonus round. The bonus round has a pick me feature, which you love to play. You pick the middle option like you always do and uncover a $3,500 jackpot.
You start jumping up and down, screaming about how you just won a month’s wages. Then, you slowly come down to earth, realizing you didn’t win anything because you were playing for free.
It happens all the time. But it doesn’t have to.
All you need to do is gamble online with real money, even if it’s a small amount. Remember this, even a small bet will payout more than a free bet.
That’s one of the many reasons why we recommend real money online gambling to Americans. You can get started for cheap and still have the chance to win lots of money.
This guide will help you get started. In the next few sections, we’re going to look at the most popular types of gambling and the best real money online gambling sites for the US.
Real Money Online Casino Gambling
Real money US casinos have exploded in growth the several years. New Jersey is proof of that. Here is their December online casino revenue for every year since 2013.
Keep in mind that this is one state and only one month’s worth of data each year. And while no one, not even New Jersey, experiences perpetual growth, it’s hard to deny that online casinos are growing.
There are many reasons why. We’ll explore some of those reasons as we go through each of the most popular casino games you can play for real money online. But if you want to jump straight in, here are our recommendations for the top real money US casinos.
There are many reasons to play slots online instead of live.
You never have to wait for a free machine (our biggest gambling pet-peeve).
US online casinos offer deposit bonuses worth thousands of dollars.
Play slots from top software providers like RealTime Gaming (RTG), Rival, and BetSoft.
These perks are only available if you join the best real money slots casinos.
Of course, there are downsides to playing slots online. For example, online casinos for Americans don’t offer licensed or branded slot machines. These are machines based on movies, TV shows, celebrities, comic books, and more.
But that’s hardly a complaint. Every online gambling site or casino we recommend has more than 100 slot machines with features such as free spins, multipliers, scatters, cascading wilds, and bonus rounds.
The point? There’s plenty of fun and exciting slots for Americans to play. They’re not hard to find either. You just need to join a high-quality online casino.
Another popular casino game that’s usually crowded during peak hours is craps. And if you play craps live, maybe you’re into that.
But maybe you’re not and would prefer to play by yourself, so you can avoid making etiquette faux pas. And you can, so long as you join a high-quality, online craps casinos.
Another reason to prefer online craps over land-based craps is that the games move faster. You can make a bet, roll, and win or lose in just a few seconds. This puts you on pace to play a couple hundred rounds or more per hour.
You’ll never find a game this fast offline, even if you’re the only one playing.
These are just a few of the many reasons why we recommend enthusiasts try their hand at playing craps online. And who knows, you might enjoy it so much you never play live craps again.
One of the reasons we like video poker so much is that the house edge is low, even for people who don’t use optimal strategy.
You can find all the video poker action you can handle if you join one of the real money USA gambling sites we endorse.
One of the reasons you’ll find so much action is because the sites we recommend offer a half a dozen, if not more than a dozen, variants.
Here are some of the different video poker games you can find online.
Jacks or Better
Tens or Better
Aces and Eights
Deuces and Joker
The video poker machines at the US gambling websites we recommend also have progressive jackpots, as well as features like multi-hand games and the option to gamble your winnings.
The stakes you can play for online are similar to the stakes you can play offline, too. And you can increase your chances of winning since you can have your game open in one screen and your cheat sheet in another.
The bottom line, you have every reason to play real money video poker online and few, if any reasons not to.
After that, everyone played real money poker. Your neighbor hosted home poker games. The guys at work hosted a weekend game. And everyone played online at PokerStars or PartyPoker.
Then, the US government passed the UIGEA in 2006. This law prohibited banks from processing payments to and from poker rooms. This shook the industry, but it quickly found its footing.
New poker sites emerged to replace the ones that left. And they all found workarounds for getting deposits and withdrawals processed.
For the next five years, everything was pretty good. Then, the US government indicted all the major poker sites on charges like fraud and money laundering. Basically, they all violated the UIGEA. The poker industry named this day, “Black Friday.”
Nearly every poker site indicted was forced to close. Only PokerStars remained open. And they remained the largest poker site in the world.
Online poker in the United States hasn’t been the same since. There are few games, and the games that do run are smaller.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Games still run. And online poker is still growing in some areas, if not at least staying consistent. The online games in New Jersey is a good example of this. The following is the state’s December revenue for every year since 2013.
But even though online poker in the United States is smaller and not experiencing the growth or popularity it did pre-Black Friday, chances are, you’ll still enjoy it more online than you will live.
Why Play Real Money Poker Online?
There are many reasons why you should consider playing real money poker online instead of your local casino or cardroom.
You can play cash games for as little as $0.01/$0.02 and MTTs for less than $1.
USA online poker rooms have five- and six-figure guaranteed weekend tournaments and four- and five-figure guaranteed tourneys throughout the week.
Most poker rooms let you play multiple tables at the same time.
You can play Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, Razz, HORSE, and many other poker games.
There are tons of features you can use, too. For example, if you join one of the best real money poker rooms for Americans, you’ll get to use features like four color decks, hand history replayers, HUDs, and more.
The poker rooms we recommend also offer generous promotions. For example, you’ll get to claim deposit bonuses worth thousands, free tournament tickets, freerolls, and play in guaranteed tournaments worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.
BetOnline is one of the best real money USA gambling sites for playing online poker.Visit BetOnline
The downside to all of this, as we mentioned earlier, is that the games are smaller. There’s less traffic, so games are harder to find, especially during off-peak hours. And, naturally, the guaranteed tourneys are smaller than they used to be.
The bright side, though, is that you’ll find more overlay tournaments and that the games that you do manage to find are so much softer than they used to be.
The bottom line is, there’s still a decent amount of money to win from poker if you have decent fundamentals and accounts with most of the top US online poker rooms.
Just look at New Jersey’s revenue. The numbers just keep going up and up.
Sports betting has its seasons, which is why there are some dips in the data. However, the overall trend is up, and that’s because of more Americans on placing sports bets online.
You can, too. All you need is an account with one of the best real money US gambling sites.
In fact, we recommend you have two to three accounts. For one thing, you’ll want to compare odds across many sportsbooks to ensure you get the best odds. And you’ll have more sports to bet on.
Here are just a few of the sports our recommend betting sites cover.
You can make all sorts of bets, such as moneylines, props, futures, spreads, etc. And the betting sites we endorse have features such as mobile betting, early cash-outs, live (in-play) betting, and more.
The biggest downside to betting online is that most betting sites aren’t fond of handicappers. But if you bet recreationally, this isn’t something you need to worry about.
Betting sports online is the way to go. It’s much easier to do online than it is offline, especially with all the tools and options betting sites provide. And it’s easy to go from one betting to another to compare odds or find action on an event or match that other bookmakers aren’t covering.
Online sports betting isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s already one of the most popular forms of online gambling and is only going to continue to get bigger. So, why not get in on the action?
Esports is the hottest sport to bet on. It crossed the $1 billion revenue mark in 2019, and experts predicted it could reach $13 billion in 2020.
It’s gotten so big that there are now esports leagues. Many of them, such as the Overwatch League, require each team to have a home city and a stadium so that they can host away teams.
Not convinced? Well, what about the fact that colleges are offering esports college matches and hosting events, or that the Olympics is considering adding it as an event.
We haven’t even mentioned the betting side of things yet. Experts estimate that esports betting will exceed $16 billion in the next couple of years.
Take the MGM, for example. They’re doubling down on esports. They spent $2 million in 2016 to convert their Rainforest Café into LEVEL UP, an esports-dedicated lounge.
The point of all this is that esports and esports betting is serious business. And you can get in on the action, and bet on games like Overwatch, Dota 2, and more, if you join one of our recommended US betting sites.
One of our favored US real money gambling sites for esports betting is Bovada.Visit Bovada
Horse Racing Betting
You could argue that horse racing is more of an American pastime than gambling, since you can trace horse racing in the United States all the way back to 1665.
Horse racing is a big deal today. Races have multimillion-dollar purses. Tens of thousands of people watch the races in person and on TV. And hundreds of millions are wagered every year by spectators.
It’s easy to get in on the action. Every real money US betting site we recommend has a racebook where you can bet on races such as the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, also known as the Triple Crown.
You can bet on horse races in other parts of the world, too. That includes races like Kennedy Oaks, Melbourne Cup, and Caulfield Cup.
You’ll have access to all the same features sports bettors do. But you’ll often get access to promotions they don’t, such as rebates on your losses, which bookies deposit into your account on a weekly basis.
You won’t find these promotions offered from land-based sportsbooks. For that reason and much more, it makes sense to spend most of your time betting horse races online.
The most common types of real money gambling online in the USA are casino games, poker, and sports betting. But they’re not your only options. There are other games you can play online for real money, too.
Arcade games (Bejeweled, Tetris, Angry Birds, Solitaire, Scrabble, etc.)
It’s less common for real money US gambling sites to offer these games, but not unheard of.
Most bingo sites are standalone sites. The good news is that many of them offer slots, arcade games, and scratch cards. So, if want to play those games, you might not even need a casino account.
As for the lottery, you can participate online, but only if your state offers it. You’ll want to visit your state’s lottery website to see if you can play online, as well as to see what other real money games they offer.
Real Money Mobile Gambling Apps
One of the benefits to gambling online is that you can gamble on your smartphone or tablet. This enables you to gamble from anywhere in the United States, so long as you can access the internet.
The online gambling industry took a long time to adopt mobile betting and gaming. Maybe it’s because they noticed everyone on their phone, or that desktop usage was dropping. Or maybe they saw the stats that mobile gaming transactions are now growing at nearly 100% annually.
But they’re all bullish on mobile gambling online now. You should be, too.
Mobile gambling is more convenient than desktop gambling. You’re not anchored to your computer. Many US gambling sites offer mobile-exclusive promotions, too.
Most US-facing online gambling sites nowadays don’t have native apps these days, but instead use HTML5 to create mobile-responsive websites. This means there’s nothing for you to download.
Sure, native apps have their benefits. But operators have to spend a lot of money to build and maintain them. And they always build them for iOS and Android users, never for Blackberry and Windows users.
The upside to mobile-responsive gambling sites is that they work on all major operating systems, so no one is excluded. And they expand and shrink to fit any screen.
If that sounds good to you, all you need is an account with one of our recommended real money gambling websites, a mobile web browser (Safari or Google Chrome), and you’re ready to play.
Differences Between Desktop and Mobile Gambling
There aren’t many differences between desktop and mobile gambling online. Here’s what you can expect based on each form of gambling.
You can play every casino game on their phone. Some real money US casinos have smaller selections of mobile games, so you might want to read our reviews before you join.
Mobile Betting Sites
Chances are, you won’t notice a difference between the mobile and desktop sportsbook, other than its size.
This is where you’ll see the biggest difference between desktop and mobile. You’ll have fewer games, variants, and stakes to choose from. Many features are often removed too, due to size or incompatibility with mobile operating systems.
The biggest and most obvious difference you’ll notice is the size of your screen. The games and betting slips will have different layouts compared to their desktop versions. But once you get used to that, mobile gambling is hardly any different.
In fact, you might like it so much that you’ll never go back to gambling on your desktop computer again.
One challenge you’ll have to face when gambling for real money online is banking.
Banking has been a challenge ever since the USA passed the UIGEA in 2006. We talk more about this bill below, but the short version is that it prohibits companies from processing gambling payments.
You can probably see where this is headed.
Nearly every banking option you use goes through a bank, credit union, or lender. This includes some of the best banking methods Americans can use to gamble online.
Many banks and credit unions now decline online gambling deposits and payouts. This makes it tough for Americans to gamble online for real money.
There’s some good news, though. It’s still possible to make deposits with debit and credit cards. And you can still get payments via check or bank wire. It just might take a couple tries.
Or you can use this one method that’s nearly guaranteed to work every time you use it.
Why US Online Gamblers Should Use Bitcoin
The best banking method for American gamblers is Bitcoin. It’s such a reliable banking method that many US gambling sites don’t bother accepting anything else.
We have a Bitcoin guide on our website, which we recommend you read that before you decide to use it to gamble online. There are risks to investing in Bitcoin you should know about first.
There are many benefits too, though, especially for gamblers in the USA.
Every bit of the process is anonymous. No one knows who is buying, selling, or sending Bitcoin. No one knows where the payments are going or where they’re coming from.
No one owns Bitcoin or has authority over it. No one can tell you how to spend it or what to spend it on.
Bitcoin usually has the highest deposit and payouts limits of any US-friendly banking option. Some online gambling sites even offer limitless banking.
Most real money US gambling sites don’t charge fees for using Bitcoin since they don’t pay fees to a payment processor.
Bitcoin is the fastest banking method. Most US gambling sites process payments within 48 hours (if not faster). Once approved, payments should hit your wallet within 15 minutes.
Bitcoin overcomes nearly every obstacle that American gamblers face.
Even better yet, Bitcoin is only one type of cryptocurrency. It’s the most popular one, which is why we recommend you use it. But many US gambling sites accept cryptocurrencies such as these.
Every unique cryptocurrency has its pros and cons. But the problems you’ll experience is a drop in the bucket compared to the headaches you’ll get trying to gamble online with more traditional forms of money.
That’s why we recommend Bitcoin to all our American readers.
Now, the most important consideration gamblers must make is the banking method they’re going to use. But it’s not the only one. The following are a few other things you’ll want to consider.
Banking limits will vary from site to site.
Some US online gambling sites impose limits of $20 to $1,000 on deposits or $100 to $2,500 on payouts. Other sites will have limits of $5 to $2,500 and $50 to $5,000.
It depends. Not only on the operator, but also on the banking method you use. This is one of the reasons why we recommend you use Bitcoin. It’s the most flexible option.
What you really want to pay attention to are the payout limits. This is what fluctuates the most from one site to the next, especially real money US gambling sites.
Here’s how joining the wrong site can get you in trouble.
A high minimum payout limit will hold your money hostage. For example, say you deposit $300, lose $150, and want to cash out. But you can’t because the minimum limit is $200.
Your only option now is to play and hope you get lucky enough to win another $50. But the odds are higher of you losing more money to the site.
If the maximum payout is too low, say $1,000 per week or $5,000 per month, then it can take months if not years to payout a huge win.
Ultimately, you want to think about the games and stakes you’ll play and whether the casino’s limits will accommodate a huge loss or huge win.
Nearly every US real money gambling site online charges banking fees. That’s because they have to pay fees to the company that processes their payments.
Most sites won’t charge fees on deposits. There are a few quality sites that do, but most are happy covering the fee knowing you’re about to spend money with them.
Payment are a different story. Almost every USA gambling site on the internet charges something to cash your money out.
The fees will depend on the banking method you use. You should expect to pay $30 to $60 for bank wires and $30 to $100 for checks.
You want to compare the fees each site charges for the banking methods you plan to use and try to join the site that charges the least.
We also recommend looking for a site that offers one or more free cashouts per month. Many sites also offer free payouts to their high-level VIP members.
Other Important Terms
Here are a few other important banking odds and ends you’ll want to consider before you join a real money gambling site.
How long does it take for the site to process payments? Some online gambling sites do it within a couple of days while others say they take up to two weeks.
How many cashouts can you request per month?
What is their verification process like? What do you have to do before you can request a real money payment?
Do you have to spend a lot of money (relative to your deposit) before you can cash out? If you don’t, will the gambling site charge you a fee?
These are all important details to consider because you’ll know how fast you can expect to get your winnings, how much you can expect to withdraw every month, and how much you’ll need to get it.
The good news is that we cover this information in our reviews. We tell you everything you need to know so you can quickly decide if a specific gambling site is right for you. Here are the reviews for some of our top-rated real money USA gambling sites.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore banking. It’s easily the biggest challenge Americans when gambling online for real money. Get this part right and everything else will feel like you’re going downhill.
Real Money Gambling Bonuses Promotions
A huge difference between gambling online and in land-based venues are the promotions you can participate in.
Land-based casino promotions, for example, revolve around points. They give you points for every wager you make, which you can later redeem for free games, meal vouchers, show tickets, hotel rooms, and more.
These deals are okay, but they pale in comparison to the promotions online gambling sites run. Let’s look at the most common promotions you can participate in now and how they work for different types of gambling.
For this offer, the casino matches a percentage of your deposit.
For example, say a casino is offering a 100% match bonus up to $1,000. For every $1 you deposit, they will give you $1 to play with. The most you will get is $1,000, which will give you a $2,000+ bankroll.
Deposit bonuses are generally offered to first-time depositors (i.e. a “welcome” bonus) or existing customers (i.e. a “reload” bonus).
No Deposit Bonus
Another common promotion is the no deposit bonus. As the name implies, you don’t have to make a deposit to get the bonus. All you need is a real money account.
Because you don’t have to make a deposit to participate, these bonuses are usually smaller, less than $50. They will have stricter terms and conditions, too.
A free spins promotion is for slots players.
This offer is the same as winning free spins on your favorite slot machine except that the casino will give them to you to use on a specific machine.
Most online gambling sites offer free bets for their live dealer casinos and sportsbooks. Here’s how this promotion works.
The site will tell you what game, sport, or event the bet is for. You make your bet and, if it wins, you get a payout but without the amount staked. If your bet loses, you get nothing, but you also don’t lose anything because the bet was free.
A VIP program (or loyalty program) rewards you for playing a lot. Every site takes a different approach to these. Some are more sophisticated than others.
The simplest programs will give you points for every wager you make. You can exchange these points for cashback.
The sophisticated VIP programs will have multiple tiers. You will need to earn so many points to reach each tier and, once you do, you’ll unlock the rewards for that tier.
The perks will vary. Common rewards include bonuses, higher betting limits, higher payout limits, expedited cashouts, and more.
A rebate is cashback, but it’s based on your betting losses instead of points.
For example, say a racebook offers a 10% rebate on your net losses. If you lose $100, they will give you a $10 rebate.
That was a high-level overview of the most common promotions US gambling sites offer. Dig a little deeper and you’ll notice that the types of offers, how much you can get, and the terms you agree to will vary based on the site you join and what you play or bet on.
The one thing that every offer has in common, though, is that it will have terms and conditions. You automatically agree to these terms if you choose to participate in a promotion.
If you fail to fulfill these terms, most gambling sites reserve the right to take away your bonus and any money you won with it. So, it’s important to know what these are and how they work.
The following are the most common bonus terms you’ll see from real money US online gambling sites.
The gambling site applies a multiple to your bonus or deposit and bonus. You need to wager that amount of money before you can cash out your winnings.
For example, say the $500 bonus you claimed has a 50x playthrough requirement. This means you need to wager $25,000 before you withdraw your winnings.
Playthrough requirements vary based on the type of gambling and the game you’re playing. We’ll look at a few examples in a minute.
Many promotions have an expiration date. You need to claim the offer and fulfill the terms before this date.
Otherwise, you forfeit any remaining bonus money or winnings.
Limit on Winnings
Another term many US online gambling sites have is they put a limit on the amount of winnings you can cash out when it’s won using a bonus or free bet.
For example, if you get 100 free spins, the casino might say that the maximum winnings you can withdraw is $1,000.
Nearly every gambling site will prohibit you from playing specific games or making specific bets while you use a bonus.
For example, many casinos prohibit you from playing games like blackjack or Casino Hold’em because the house edge is too low.
This is like prohibited games, but it’s applicable to specific bets.
For example, many casinos prohibit red/black or even/odd roulette bets because you can bet on both sides and break even, making it easy to clear the bonus.
And many sportsbooks have terms that say you can’t make bets on anything that has odds smaller than 1.5 or 2.0.
Make a bet with smaller odds or fail to follow any of the terms mentioned above, and the gambling site will confiscate your bonus and winnings.
How Promotions Work for Different Forms of Gambling
We just looked at the most common promotions US gambling sites offer and the terms and conditions you agree to when you participate in them.
What we want to do now is dig a little deeper and show you how promotions and promotional terms and conditions vary based on the type of real money online gambling you’re doing.
Here are a few quick rules of thumb to keep in mind.
Gambling sites offer larger bonuses for with a higher house edge. This includes slots, arcade games, keno, and bingo. US slots players can expect these bonuses to range from $1k to $5k.
Sports betting bonuses are generally smaller, between $100 and $500.
US gambling sites give casino players and sports bettors their bonuses upfront. Then, you play games to fulfill your playthrough requirement.
Poker is different all around. Bonuses range from $500 to $1,500 and you don’t get it upfront. You play real money games with your own money and, as you earn points, you unlock small chunks of your bonus.
Playthrough requirements are smaller for casino games with a high house edge and larger for games with a low house edge. Betting playthrough requirements are usually less than 10x.
Some promotions are for a specific game, like slots, blackjack, or video poker, or a specific event such as the Super Bowl.
Some offers allow you to cash out your winnings (deposit bonus) while others don’t (no deposit bonus).
Here’s the point of all this. You’ll find that gambling sites offer the same types of promotions no matter what you want to play or bet on.
But they will vary significantly in scope. The match percentages will be different, the size of the bonus will be different, the playthrough will be different, and so on.
So, it’s important to do your homework when gambling online for real money. Read our reviews and read the gambling site’s terms and conditions so that you can find the best deals for you, as well as know what you’re getting yourself into.
Many American gamblers are concerned about security and fairness. How do they know each real money gambling site is safe and secure? How do they know the games are fair?
Operators Have to Apply for a License
To start, every gambling operators needs to apply for a gambling license for the jurisdictions they want to operate in.
This process varies a little, but usually includes multiple applications, background checks, and investigations performed by the gambling commission. They do this to ensure the gambling operator can keep customers’ information and funds safe.
Games Are Tested for Randomness
Gambling operators also frequently hire third-party companies to test their games for randomness and the return to player (RTP).
If the software produces random results, you know the games are fair.
Gambling Sites Use Encryption Software
All trustworthy gambling sites use SSL encryption software, just like online banks and ecommerce stores do.
This encrypts the data sent to the website (like your credit card details) so hackers can’t get it.
What Happens If a Gambling Site Screws Up?
If a gambling site screws up i.e. their software fails, they don’t pay a customer, or they don’t follow the gambling commission’s rules, they can get into big trouble.
The gambling commission might suspend or revoke their license.
The commission might fine them hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
This is in addition to all the negative press they’ll receive from sites like ours and online gambling forums. They’ll lose a lot of business, if not go out of business.
Knowing this, there’s very little incentive for online gambling sites to take advantage of customers. They’ll make more money running a legitimate business.
And even if they do go down that road, the odds of you not hearing about it are slim to none if you’re part of the US gambling community.
The point of all this is that there’s very little risk to you joining an unsafe, insecure, and unfair gambling site. And it’s nonexistent if you join one of the safest real money US gambling sites we recommend.
Another concern that American gamblers have is the legality of online gambling in the United States. We understand that no one wants to break any laws or risk their freedom playing nickel slots.
What we’re going to do now is briefly go over the two biggest federal gambling laws, as well as explain how states approach gambling online.
By the time we’re done, we’re sure you’ll see that you have nothing to worry about if you want to gamble online for real money in the US.
George W. Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or UIGEA, in 2006. It impacts online gambling even today, but not in the way that most people think.
Many people think that the UIGEA prohibits gambling online. That’s not true, though.
What the UIGEA does is prohibit companies from processing gambling payments to and from illegal gambling sites.
This means banks can get in deep trouble for approving payments to IllegalGamblingSite.com. It means IllegalGamblingSite.com can get in trouble for running an illegal operation.
But it says nothing about whether you can play slots or bet on the Super Bowl for real money. Those gambling laws are handled on the state level.
The UIGEA may still affect you, though. If you try to make a deposit using your credit or debit card, your bank might say no. They might decline to process your bank wire or check.
That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with you. And it doesn’t always matter what the gambling laws are in your state. Many banks have been touchy ever since the UIGEA passed. They’d rather be safe than sorry.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, or PASPA, was a law that prohibited sports betting in most states.
There were a few states that were exempt to varying degrees, but only Nevada has been able to legally offer full-blown sports betting since it was passed.
After multiple attempts by the state of New Jersey, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned PASPA in 2018.
This means that every state can pass their own sports betting laws. Each state now has full control over their gambling laws.
How Gambling Laws Works at State Level
Every state now has the right to create their own gambling laws. Some states choose to allow it in all forms. Some states choose to allow some forms but prohibit others. And other states choose to prohibit everything but their state lottery.
But even though every US state has different gambling laws, their process for creating those laws and operating and overseeing real money online gambling is nearly the same.
Every state has a gaming commission or authority that oversees their betting and gaming activities. Here are some of the things they do.
They draft the state’s gambling laws.
They accept, review, and approve gambling license applications.
They enforce the state’s gambling laws and investigate operators they suspect of breaking them.
They issue fines and suspend or revoke gambling licenses based on their investigations.
They set up problem gambling safeguards.
If you want to know what the gambling laws are in your state, you should make your state’s gambling commission website your first stop. And maybe a lawyer to help you interpret it.
Every state’s online gambling laws are different. While gambling (online or otherwise) isn’t illegal on a federal level, you’ll want to explore your own state’s laws to determine what’s legal for you to do.
With all the changes being made on the federal and state level, it’s definitely a constantly moving target that’s hard to keep track of.
Land-Based Gambling in the United States
So far, all we’ve talked about is gambling online for real money in the USA. But the truth is that online gambling wasn’t even a twinkle in someone’s eye until six decades after the first land-based casino opened.
Land-based casinos share some similarities with online gambling. You can play many of the same games and bet on the same sports. But there are many differences, too.
We’ll explore what some of those differences are, as well as what you can expect to find if you choose to play casino games, poker, or bet sports offline.
There are more than 1,000 land-based casinos operating in the United States. You’ll come across two types, Native American and commercial casinos.
Native American casinos are usually on that tribe’s reservation. Commercial casinos are usually located in the city. That’s one way to tell the two apart.
The décor is different, too. Indian casinos have a tribal feel. You’ll see that the décor is usually inspired by nature, animals, and tribal art. Commercial casinos often follow a theme. A couple of good examples are the New York-New York Hotel Casino and Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Arguably, the biggest difference is in the gambling laws the two types of casinos must follow. Commercial casinos have to follow state and federal laws whereas Indian casinos are exempt.
Beyond that, the two types of casinos are the same. This includes the casino games you can expect to find at each one.
Overall, there isn’t a huge difference between playing casino games for real money online and in land-based casinos. You’ll notice a far bigger difference if you’re a poker player.
Live poker is very different compared to online poker. Here are some of the major differences you can expect to see.
Poker rooms aren’t always part of a casino. Some are standalone businesses.
The stakes are much higher. The cheapest cash game you’ll find is $1/$2 and $20/$40 for poker tournaments.
Texas Hold’em makes up 90% of the games you’ll find.
The most common variants are guaranteed tournaments, turbo blinds, and bounty tournaments. All other variants you can play online are uncommon outside of places like Las Vegas.
You can play in larger and more prestigious series offline. The World Series of Poker Main Event is a good example. It has a $10,000 buy-in and a multi-million prize for the winner.
Some poker rooms take their rake out of the pot or your tournament buy-in like online poker rooms do. Others charge you an hourly seat fee or an hourly or daily door fee.
There are some downsides you’re sure to notice, too. For example, it’s hard to take notes and you can’t use software at the table. You have none of the tools you have when you play online.
An even bigger downside is the fact that you can only play one table at a time. Live poker bores some players. And it’s harder to play a lot of volume or increase your hourly rate when you play live.
A huge upside, though, is the fact that live games are much softer compared to online poker. Think about it. Online poker players can hone their skills playing $0.01/$0.02 and $5 tournaments. So, a $50 MTT is going to have stiff competition.
But offline? A $50 MTT is like playing a $5 SNG online. You can crush that game if you have your poker and MTT fundamentals down.
Overall, land-based poker is the most different from its online counterpart compared to land-based casino games and betting sports. Chances are, most people will enjoy real money online poker more.
But you can be the judge of that.
Land-Based Sports Betting
Live sports betting has undergone some major changes over the last five years. The biggest change is that Nevada no longer has a monopoly on sports betting in the United States.
That’s because the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, enabling every state to create their own betting laws.
Many states have passed laws too. You’ll notice that sports betting laws can vary quite a bit from one state to the next.
Some states allow live and online betting while others only allow live betting.
Some states allow betting on college sports and esports while others don’t.
Some states allow mobile betting while others only allow it while you’re on the premises. And some states don’t allow mobile betting at all.
Some states allow you to create your account online. Other states require you to create your account in person.
You get the idea. If you plan to bet on sports, you’ll want to learn what your state’s betting laws are so that you stay on the right side of the law.
Now, this wraps up our section on gambling offline. Land-based gambling isn’t perfect, but neither is online gambling. It’s a matter of weighing the pros and cons to decide which you like most. Though, there’s no reason why you can’t do both.
The gambling tips in the next section should help you out no matter which path you decide to take.
7 Tips for Gambling With Real Money in the US
We get it. You’re ready to start gambling online for money. But before you do, read our tips below to ensure you start on the right foot.
1Read the Terms and Conditions
Every US online gambling site has terms and conditions that tell you what their “house rules” are. You want to follow these rules otherwise you risk losing your winnings, maybe even your account.
For example, if you claim a deposit bonus and play a prohibited slot machine, the casino will take your bonus and winnings away.
If you count cards playing live dealer blackjack, the casino will take your winnings away. They might even close your account.
But you won’t know what’s allowed and what’s not if you don’t read the terms and conditions. We know it’s a boring thing to do, but it beats losing hundreds in dollars in bonus money and winnings.
2Pick the Right Deposit Bonus
Earlier we said that bonus vary a lot and that you need to compare offers to find the right one for your budget. Here’s an example of what that looks like.
Say you only have $200 to deposit and you want to claim a deposit bonus. If you claim a 100% match for a $1,000 bonus, you’ll get an extra $200. But you’re leaving $800 on the table.
It makes more sense to wait to claim an offer like this until you have a little more money.
A much better deposit bonus is one that has a high match percentage, like a 200% match up to $500. You’ll get $400 for your $200 deposit (for a $600 bankroll). You get more mileage out of your deposit and you don’t leave as much on the table.
If you get lucky and run that $600 up, then it’ll make sense to join a casino with a larger deposit bonus.
3Join One of Our Recommended Sites
We’re biased, we know, but a surefire way to know that you’re going to have a great time gambling for real money online is to join one of the gambling sites we recommend.
Otherwise, you risk joining a cruddy gambling site.
Now, the consequences of joining a subpar gambling site might not be that bad. Maybe they don’t have many betting markets to choose from or their guaranteed tournaments are a little small.
But it can be horrible. You can join a gambling site with ridiculously high playthrough requirements. Their minimum withdrawal limits are too high for your budget (holding your money hostage). And they back out of hosting guaranteed poker tournaments when the buy-ins fall short of meeting the guarantee.
Or, worse, you join a site that will rob you blind.
We don’t want to scare you, but all sorts of gambling sites operate online. And a surefire way to avoid all the cruddy ones while joining the best real money gambling sites for the USA is to join one that we endorse.
This is a tip you can use for both online and land-based gambling. It’s important that you practice bankroll management. Otherwise, you risk losing a lot of money.
Here’s what you need to do.
Establish a gambling budget and don’t spend more than that.
Establish a time limit for how long you’ll play and stop playing once your time’s up.
Decide what stakes you’ll play and when you’ll move up or down in limits.
This is a simple bankroll management plan. So long as you follow your own rules, you won’t get into too much trouble.
You can take this a little farther, too. For example, maybe you decide to stop playing if you double your bankroll. Or maybe you decide to only with your winnings so you can guarantee that you leave with your original bankroll intact.
Here’s the point of all this.
The idea is to gamble responsibly. And the easiest way to do that is to establish a few parameters so you leave nothing to chance. That way, you don’t spend more money than you would otherwise.
And if you’re unsure as to whether you’ll stick to your guidelines, either give someone else your money, use a prepaid card when gambling online for real money, or use the betting and time limits that many online gambling sites offer.
5Take Advantage of VIP Programs
We understand if you need to try a few gambling sites out before you figure out which ones you like the best. But once you do, we recommend you spend 80% to 90% of your time there.
The reason is simple. Every US gambling site we recommend has a VIP program. The more you play and the more you spend, the more cashback and rewards you unlock.
You can play at many gambling sites or land-based casinos and earn rewards. But the more you play at, the longer this will take.
You’ll earn rewards much faster if you focus all your time at one or two casinos. This is a great way to put a little extra cash in your pocket, even offset some of your losses.
Betting systems don’t work because they don’t alter the rules of the game you’re playing. And since you’re not altering the rules, you’re not altering the payouts or the house edge.
So, no matter what, you’re playing at a disadvantage.
If you really want to decrease the house edge or a better chance of winning money, play a game with a lower house edge (blackjack, Casino Hold’em, video poker, etc.) or play a game that’s possible to beat (poker and sports betting).
7Don’t Believe Common Slot Myths
There are many slot myths you want to ignore if you plan to play for real money.
There’s no such thing as a “hot” or “cold” slot.
Slots don’t pay more during specific days and times.
A slots card doesn’t decrease your chances of winning.
Using the level (instead of the button) doesn’t increase your chances of winning.
The temperature of your money doesn’t matter.
You can never tell when a slot is about to pay.
To summarize, slots are 100% random. There’s no way to change the house edge of any given machine you play. The only way to improve your odds is to not play slots at all.
But we like playing slots for real money and we know you do, too. So, instead of trying to improve your chances of winning, just accept that you’re probably going to lose and have fun instead.
That’s the best gambling tip we could ever give you.
Real Money Online Gambling FAQ
How do you stay safe gambling online?
The best way to stay safe when gambling online for real money is to join or play at a reputable, regulated, and licensed gambling site.
The easiest way to do that is to join one of our recommended real money US gambling sites.
How do I choose the best gambling site?
The word “best” is relative. You need to decide what you want to play or bet on, as that will determine which site you should join.
Once you figure that out, we have several recommendations above for which gambling sites are great choices.
Why gamble for real money?
You should gamble for real money because that’s the only way to win real money.
Playing for free has its benefits, but in the long run, you’ll enjoy gambling far more if you play for money, even if it’s only a tiny amount.
Can you gamble online legally in the United States?
Yes, you can gamble online in most states.
There are a few US states that have strict gambling laws, so some sites won’t accept residents from those states. Residents in other states won’t have any problems, though.
Where can I play slots for real money?
Any site we recommend on this page is a good place to start.
We also have dozens of real money US casinos in our reviews section.
Are there casino apps that pay real money?
Yes, so long as you use a gambling app from a legitimate online gambling site.
Remember, the app is just an extension of the site. If the gambling site offers real money gaming, so does the app.
Are there online games that pay real money?
You can play chess, backgammon, arcade games, and more. WorldWinner.com is an excellent example of all the nontraditional gambling games you can play online for real money.
Do you have to pay taxes on your gambling winnings?
Probably. But we’re not lawyers or accountants, so don’t take our word for it.
We recommend you consult with a tax professional in your area so that you know for sure.
How much money do I need to gamble online?
Far less than you need to gamble in a land-based casino. You can play poker games for $0.01/$0.02 per hand or less than $5 for an MTT. You can play casino games and bet sports for $1 or less.
Ultimately, it depends on the games and stakes you want to play. But you could get started for $5 to $20 at most real money US gambling sites.
How many real money gambling sites can I join?
As many as you want. We recommend everyone have two gambling accounts if your bankroll can handle it.
You might want more if you bet sports or play poker so it’s easier to find profitable bets and games.
Getting Started With Real Money Gambling
Congratulations, you did it. You made it through this entire guide. You learned a lot about gambling online for real money in the USA.
Here’s what you learned.
Why you should gamble online
Gambling for real money vs. gambling for free
The different games and bets you can make for real money
Gambling on mobile apps
The best banking options for Americans
The promotions US gambling sites offer Americans
An overview of the gambling laws in the United States
An overview of the land-based gambling options in America
Top tips for gambling for real money
You now know what to expect if you decide to join a real money gambling site and gamble online from the United States.
And we think you should. Gambling online is more convenient, cost effective, and lucrative than gambling in land-based casinos.
All that’s left for you to do is join a high-quality, real money gambling site. And that’s where we come in.
We’ve made several recommendations on this page. You can join a general, all-around gambling site if you like playing and betting on a little bit of everything. Or you can join one of the best gambling sites for slots, blackjack, Texas Hold’em, or betting on football.
The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what you like to bet on or play, we show you the best and safest real money US gambling sites online at any given time. Here’s a reminder of our top recommendations.