States Without Legal Gambling – An Overview

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A gavel, handcuffs, playing cards, casino chips and cash scattered on a green casino table. The items on the table are bathed in red light.
BetMGM Jul 17, 2023, 9:22 PM

It’s hard to believe that in the 21st century, gambling remains an illegal activity in a number of states in the USA. It was only as recently as 2018 that sports betting became permissible across the country – but only with the approval of any single state’s own regulatory and legislative bodies. 

Many have failed to give that approval, making not only land-based casinos illegal within their borders but online casino games, scratch-offs, daily fantasy sports and sports betting. Let’s have a look at those states where gambling is illegal.

1. Utah

This deeply religious, largely Mormon state has some of the most draconian anti-gambling laws in the country. Not only is Utah one of five states without casinos, but it also prohibits any form of public, private or online gaming, gambling or betting. Not even charities are allowed to run so much as a raffle and there’s definitely no state lottery. There are no bingo halls, either. You can’t even toss a coin to decide who’s going to drive the 90 minutes across the state line into Nevada.

2. Hawaii

Hawaiian culture gives great importance to the family, and so Hawaii is fiercely protective of its reputation as a clean and wholesome family holiday destination. As such, Hawaii has decided not to allow any land-based casinos to be built along its magnificent coastline. Not only do they deem the kind of tourism that casinos would attract to be undesirable, but they also don’t want the added traffic, pollution and everything they imagine comes with hordes of gambling holidaymakers. So fervent is the state’s desire to keep any form of gambling out of Hawaii that even cruise ships that start and finish here are not permitted to have any electronic gambling devices onboard. The fate of anyone indulging in a little online poker is, however, uncertain in Hawaii.

3. Alaska

If legalized gambling is a way of raising a state’s revenue through taxation, then our 49th state seems not to need the money. After all, Alaska has vast mineral resources and makes its money from mining and tourism. And not only are there no brick-and-mortar casinos in Alaska, but private and social gambling are also not permitted. In some areas, there is also a ban on alcohol, so a night playing poker with pals and a few beers isn’t really an option here.

4. Texas

For a state that gave its name to arguably poker’s most popular format, there’s surprisingly only one single casino in the entire state, and that’s on the Kickapoo reserve close to the Mexican border, so technically, it isn’t even in Texas. The state where everything is bigger does have a massive state lottery, though, as well as bingo halls, but sports betting remains illegal. With some of the best NFL and NBA teams in the country, well, that’s just a shame.

5. Tennessee

Maybe it’s because Tennessee is located deep in the Bible belt with a particular puritanical air that keeps it sticking to antiquated gaming laws dating back to the 1800s. A state that has produced its fair share of amazing singing artists with roots in gospel, including Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton and Tina Turner, Tennessee maintains its Christian principles and forbids social gambling and daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting. Fortunately, though, online gambling is tolerated.

6. New Hampshire

One of New Hampshire’s saving graces is its proximity to Massachusetts and New York, where gambling is permitted because this tiny state thinks that preserving a ban on gambling is as quaint as some of its towns. With no casinos and no social or online gambling, we wonder what these Granite Staters do for fun.

Other States

There are a number of other states where some forms of gambling are allowed, even though some are not. Mostly it’s social and online gaming that falls into a gray, unregulated area, although sometimes these formats, along with raffles, lotteries, DFS and scratch-offs, are legislated. States where gambling is legal in land-based casino form (or casino cruise ship in the case of Georgia!) but other forms are not, include Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin and Indiana.

If you want to know where gambling is illegal and, therefore, which places to avoid for that next gambling vacation, be sure to do your research and have a look for casinos by state. But even if you weren’t planning on visiting a casino, maybe you did plan on playing some casino table games, and the last thing you want is to end up in trouble for being on your favorite site!

It’s also worth noting that in those states that have legalized gambling in its various forms, each has its own legal age limit for gaming. The lowest legal age for gaming in the USA is 18, but in some states, it’s 21, so be sure to make yourself aware of this as well as all the other regulations around in-person and online gambling.  

Bet Where It’s Legal With BetMGM

If online gambling is allowed where you are – and wherever you plan to go – be sure to register at BetMGM for the best online gaming experience. With a full range of table games, slots and live dealer games, there’s sure to be something to suit your tastes.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.