Where to play Online Blackjack Legally
For US players there is a general misunderstanding about the law covering online casinos. Many people incorrectly believe that playing for real money at online casinos is not legal under federal law. In fact, there is no law which even mentions individual players. The act that people refer to only targets banks, banning them from transacting with gambling site operators.
This article gives you a specific overview of the US laws covering online blackjack games. First below some legal gambling history, which starts in 1961. After that I have quickly mentioned State laws, including the newly regulated States. At the end of the page some excellent, and fully legal, online Blackjack casinos are mentioned.
Legal Online Blackjack – A Timeline
The first act passed federally to curb gambling was back in 1961. The ‘Wire Act’ criminalized the transmission of gambling information between state borders using telephones. This was a crackdown on underground (mob controlled) illegal sports betting operations. This preceded the internet, though would become important in the later regulation of State online gambling.
Internet casinos started gaining traction in the mid-1990’s, and by the mid-2000’s were booming. Blackjack was an obvious game to bring to the virtual felt, and progressed from a simple single-hand game into many different variations. Online casinos existed in a legal grey area at this time, with the individual states often believing that their 100+ year old statutes banning all gambling that was not specifically licensed covered this type of activity.
In 2006, an act called the ‘Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act’ was passed. This is the law which people mistakenly believe makes it illegal for individuals to enjoy real money online blackjack. In fact, it only targets the US banks, and makes it illegal for them to do business with unregulated gambling sites. The effect of this was big at the time. Most of the legitimate international casinos were forced to pull out of the US. They were replaced with privately owned casinos, many of these relocated offshore to the Caribbean or Central America.
2011 saw two legal events which shaped the gambling industry as we know it today. First there was a crackdown on gambling sites known as ‘Black Friday’, which forced many privately owned operations to close down and inducted the people running them on various fraud related charges. Second and more importantly, the Wire Act was clarified by the attorney general. The scope was narrowed to sports betting information only – with poker and casino information not affected. This enabled several States to begin regulation of online gambling (including blackjack) within their borders.
Legal Online Blackjack – State Laws
Many States have laws which specifically forbid online gambling for real money by individuals and / or the gambling site operators. These laws have never been enforced in any State, though it is always useful to check for your state before logging on. Utah are one example, they went one step further than just banning online gambling, they have specifically opted out of any future Federal legal pro-gambling laws.
3 States now have gambling sites operating in newly licensed and regulated environments. Nevada laws only cover poker games, though you can enjoy casino games in New Jersey and Delaware. It was hoped that these states would be pioneers, and that others would soon follow. At the moment, take up of these casinos has been very slow, though it is still early in the process.
Current Offshore Casino Setups
The way things are organized for most people at the moment, is that the casino site operators are based offshore in jurisdictions where gambling is completely legal and regulated. Countries such as Antigua and the Netherlands Antilles welcome gambling sites, and maintain their right to accept players from the US under internationally agreed freedom of trade laws.
While banking transactions are still often blocked, these casinos use international payment codes, which allow money to be deposited. Withdrawals are by paper check, which the US banks do accept.
There are some big and reputable brand names offshore, as well as many newer casinos which are offering a big choice of games, bonuses and promotions to players. Online blackjack is alive and well for US players, it is now located offshore.
Recommended Offshore Blackjack Casinos
The following casinos are legal, licensed and have solid track records of looking after their players – in addition to having a great range of Blackjack games.
Bovada.lv: This casino is part of the global Bodog family and has a long history of looking after their US players very well. Bovada runs the Real Time Gaming software suite (in addition to having BetSoft games) with a choice of 8 different Blackjack titles. Known for easy deposits and a long list of player promotions and specials, Bovada should be your number #1 choice for offshore legal online Blackjack games.
Drake Casino: This legal US casino does things differently. Their games are all browser-compatible and run on a combination of BetSoft or Arrows Edge software. This gives you a different selection of Blackjack titles than you might be used to finding elsewhere. The 3D slots are stunning too. Check the mobile ’Mini-Blackjack’ while you are there.