It's a Guy Thing

What states are the most lenient when it comes to gambling?

Gambling laws vary by state, in some cases very dramatically. In the strictest states, gambling is completely illegal. Alaska, Texas, Tennessee, Hawaii and Utah are the five states without any legal way to gamble. Some of them are working to change their laws, while others, mainly Utah, embrace their status.

The main exception to gambling restrictions in the United States is that the sovereignty of Native American lands extends to gambling. This means that in many states the only land-based casinos are on Native American land. It has become a very important industry for a community that has been marginalized for centuries.

The lottery is the most common form of legalized gambling across the United States. Casinos, sports betting, horse racing, video poker and other popular forms of gambling are all regulated to different degrees across the rest of the states. Some states have realized that the gaming industry is a huge source of revenue and have seriously loosened their restrictions. Here are the five states with the most lenient gambling laws:

West Virginia

If Virginia is for lovers, then West Virginia is for gamblers! The state has embraced gambling in all its forms. In 2018, sports betting was legalized after the Supreme Court struck down the law that had prevented individual states from making their own laws on the subject and in 2020 the legalization of West Virginia online casinos was passed.

Besides these online forms of gambling, West Virginia has a number of casinos and racinos — racetracks with casinos — as well. The Greenbrier luxury resort and casino club is the most impressive of these. Built as a railway resort in 1913, The Greenbrier is a gorgeous classical revival building that boasts a grand European-style casino, a spa, sports venues, a golf course, a wedding venue and a range of outdoor activities.


You can’t think about gambling in the United States without thinking about Nevada. Las Vegas is the most famous gambling city in the world. Even Reno has established an international reputation. Vegas sprang out of the desert thanks to the deep pockets and big dreams of the major mob families of the United States. After decades of mob control, Vegas was gradually tamed in the 1980s and 90s.

The gambling laws in Nevada are some of the most relaxed in the country, allowing casinos to flourish. Some of the most iconic casinos in the world grace The Strip. The Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Excalibur and the MGM Grand are all just steps from one another.

Las Vegas is also the place to go for the quickest trip around the world. New York-New York, The Luxor, Paris Las Vegas and The Venetian all have immersive themes that will make you feel like you’ve left the Mohave Desert and gone to gambling heaven.

New Jersey

Las Vegas might be the modern heart of gambling in America, but it owes everything to Atlantic City. The Atlantic City boardwalk was the premier gambling destination in the United States for decades and it is still the gambling hot spot on the East Coast. It occupies a spit of land snatched from the sea and this gives the city its unique ambiance.

All of New Jersey’s land-based casinos are located in Atlantic City, voters rejected a proposal to grant licenses to casinos in other parts of the state. The citizens of the Garden State have embraced online gambling though. Online casinos have been legal since 2011 and sports betting was legalized in 2018.


Louisiana has slightly more complicated gambling laws than the other states on our list. Sports betting at casinos and betting on horse racing are legal and they are in the process of legalizing online sports betting. Casinos are more tightly regulated however. They can only be built in certain jurisdictions.

The most interesting thing that Louisiana law allows are riverboat casinos. A throwback to the days where land-based casinos were illegal but floating ones couldn’t be regulated, riverboat casinos have a wonderful sense of nostalgia to them.


For a state that only legalized gambling in 2004, Pennsylvania has made up for lost time and now boasts the second highest casino revenue in the country. The state has 16 casinos and unlike in New Jersey, they are scattered across the entire state. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh both have a few, including one in each city under the Rivers name. The company also runs an online casino, to cater to those who can’t make it there in person.