Penalties for online gambling, state by state
I'm not a lawyer. Do not rely on this article as legal advice. I also can't guarantee to have heard of every relevant case.
Last update: September 2020
State penalties for online gambling
Even in states where online
gambling is illegal, prosecution is rare and penalties are usually
slight. In most cases it's only a misdemeanor, and
in some cases it's a minor infraction, like a traffic ticket.
The penalty in Arkansas is a whopping $25. I'm so confident that
almost nobody gets jailed for gambling online that I
openly offer to pay $100 for each report of a U.S. citizen serving
even one night in jail after being sentenced for online
gambling (as a player) under any U.S. state law. (details).
The only states where simple gambling is a possible felony on first offense are Iowa, Montana, and Washington, though again, as far as I can tell, nobody's gone to jail for gambling online.
Even in most of the few states
where online gambling is legal, it's still against
the law to play at an unlicensed online operator, and
that's why I list penalties in the table below for those states.
|Penalties for unapproved online gambling by state, 1st offense, for ≤$25 per hand or spin1|
|State||Level of Offense||MAXIMUM Penalty2||Jail possible? 17||Jail ever happened
for online gambling?
|Alaska||Violation||$500 1st offense
$1000 2nd+ offenses
|Arizona||Misdemeanor (Class 1)||6 months
||✓||No18||13-3301, 13-3304, 13307|
|Arkansas||not specified||$25 (!)||No||n/a||5-66-113|
|California||Misdemeanor||$1000 and/or 1 year||✓||No5||330|
|Colorado||Petty Offense (Class 1)||$500 and/or 6 mos.||✓||No5||18-10-103, 18-1.3-503|
|Connecticut||Misdemeanor (Class B)||$1000 and/or 6 mos.
||✓||No5||53-278b, 53a-36, 53a-42|
|Delaware||(not illegal)||-||-||-||Legal US Poker Sites|
|Florida||Misdemeanor (2nd degree)||$500 and/or 60 days||✓||No5||849.08, 775.082, 775-083|
|Georgia||Misdemeanor||$1000 and/or 1 year||✓||No5||16-12-21, 17-10-3|
|Hawaii||Misdemeanor||$2000 and/or 1 year||✓||No5||712-1223, 706-640, 706-663,|
|Idaho||Misdemeanor||$500 and/or 6 mos.||✓||No5||18-3802, 18-303|
|Illinois||Misdemeanor (Class A)||$2500 and/or <1 yr.||✓||No5||720 5/28-1, 730 5/5-4.5-55|
||Misdemeanor (Class B)
||$1000 and/or 180 days
|Iowa||Felony (Class C)3||$10,000 and 10 yrs.!||✓||Search in progress...
|Kansas||Misdemeanor (Class B)||$1000 and/or 6 mos.||✓||No5||21-6404, 21-6602, 21-6611|
|Louisiana||not specified||$500 and/or 6 mos.||✓||No5||14.90.3 D, 14.90|
|Maine||Class D crime6||winnings and ($2000 and/or <1 yr.)||✓||No5||17-A:39:954, 17-A39:954-11, 17-A:63|
|Maryland||Civil Violation||$1000||No||No5||12-103 • Decriminalized in 2019 (Westlaw, MD Reporter)|
|Massachusetts||not specified||Double the winnings and ($50 or 3 months)||✓||No5||273-1, 273-2|
|Michigan||Misdemeanor||$1000 OR 1 yr.||✓||No5||750.314|
|Minnesota||Misdemeanor||$1000 and/or 90 days
|Missouri||Misdemeanor (Class C)8||$750 and/or 15 days
|Montana||Misdemeanor if ≤$750 bet/won on 1st offense; felony if >$750||$500 & no jail for 1st offense &
$50,000 and/or 10 yrs if bet/won >$750 9
|✓||Search in progress...||23-5-151, 23-5-156, 23-5-112, 23-5-161, 23-5-162|
|Nebraska||Misdemeanor (Class II)10||$1000 and/or 6 mos.
|New Hampshire||Misdemeanor (Class B)11||$1200
|New Mexico||Misdemeanor (Petty)||$500 and/or 6 mos.
|North Carolina||Misdemeanor (Class 2)||$1000 and/or 60 days
|Oklahoma||Misdemeanor||$100 and/or 30 days
|Oregon||Misdemeanor (Class A)||$6250 or 2x the winnings, and/or 365 days
|South Dakota||Misdemeanor (Class 2)14||30 days and/or $500
|Tennessee||Misdemeanor (Class C)||30 days and/or $50
|Texas||Misdemeanor (Class C)||$500
|Utah||Misdemeanor (Class B)15||6 mos. and/or $1000
|Vermont||not specified||$200 and/or 60 days16||✓||No5||13-051-2133, 13-051-2141|
|$500||No||n/a||18-2-325, 18-2-326, 18-2-11|
|Washington||Felony (Class C)||$10,000 and/or 5 yrs.
||✓||Search in progress...
|Wisconsin||Misdemeanor (Class B)||$1000 and/or 90 days
|Wyoming||Misdemeanor||$750 and/or 6 months
Every state's code listed in this section was
current through 2019 or 2020 when I checked it in 2020.
1. Some states allow gambling at tribal
casinos, other brick-and-mortar casinos, in a state lottery,
etc. The table above is for gambling at an unapproved site,
which would include all online casinos.
Also, in every case except Montana, the prohibition is against
gambling in general, not specifically on the Internet.
2. Penalties listed are the maximum possible. First offenders for most crimes rarely get the maximum penalty.
3. "Sum of Money Involved" (SOMI) ≤$100 = Serious Misdemeanor for 1st offense, Aggravated Misdemeanor for 2nd offense, Class D Felony for 3rd offense, Class 3 Felony for 4th+ offense. SOMI >$100 ≤$500 = Aggravated Misdemeanor for 1st offense, Class D Felony for 2nd offense, Class C Felony for 3rd+ offense. SOMI >$500 ≤$5000 = Class D Felony for 1st offense, Class C for 2nd+ offense. SOMI >$5000 = Class C Felony.
4. Betting at an unlicensed venue on a horse race that takes place within Virginia is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
5. At least not that I can find.
6. An aggressive reading of 17-A:39:953 could make a player guilty of Aggravated Gambling, a Class B crime, with a maximum penalty of $20,000 and/or 10 years.
7. Up to 90 days if fine is not paid immediately, and 20 days if violator is a certain public officer and used public money. (97-33-3)
8. Class A ($2000 and/or 1 year) if player is a pro, Class B ($1000 and/or 6 mos.) if done with someone <17 years old.
9. Montana's gambling laws are the least straightforward of all the states. 23-5-151 says gambling is prohibited in general but doesn't specify whether that makes it illegal for players only, or operators only, or both. It also fails to specify a penalty. Assuming it applies to players, 23-5-156 says that betting or winning money through an "illegal gambling device" is a misdemeanor if the amount won ≤$750, and a felony if >$750. 23-5-112 defines gambling device to include electronic devices, so that would seem to apply to online gambling with a computer. As for whether the device is an *illegal* device, since gambling is prohibited in general in 23-5-151, we can figure that all gambling devices are illegal gambling devices. 23-5-161 and 23-5-162 prescribe the penalties.
10. Betting less than $500 a day is only a Class IV misdemeanor (28-1104), punishable by a fine of $250 or less.
11. NH code doesn't bother to mention whether the misdemeanor is Class A or Class B, but a NH law firm says that unspecified misdemeanors are Class B unless they involve violence.
12. A NC lawyer says, "Most offenders who are charged with a Class 2 Misdemeanor do not receive any jail time....", and the court training manual says that if their are no prior convictions, then "the sentence must be suspended." ("Imposing Sentences for Misdemeanors", Step 4)
13. Betting >$25 on any hand or round is a Class A Misdemeanor, with a penalty of $3000 and/or 1 year. For ≤$25, for a third conviction within 1 year of the first, it's a Class B Misdemeanor, with a penalty of $1500 and/or 30 days.
14. Betting on animal races is a petty offense. (22-25-6) • The South Dakota statutes has a section on Internet Gambling (22-25A), but it applies to operators, not players.
15. Second and subsequent offenses are Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by $2500.
16. Jail is possible only if the offense occurs at a "gaming house", which is not defined, but I would presume that an online casino would be considered such.
17. In many jurisdictions, even when jail is not prescribed, jail is possible if you don't pay your fine.
18. In summer 2020, I asked the state government whether anyone had served jail time as a sentence for a violation of the relevant statute in the last ten years, and for states with this footnote number, the answer was no. It's possible that someone was jailed before that, but extremely unlikely.
- Is online gambling legal in the U.S.?
- Is it legal to run a casino affiliate website in the U.S.?
- Is it legal to run an online gambling website, or advertise for it?
- See our timeline of legal events re:
- Attorney I. Nelson Rose's columns on gambling & the law at Casino City