Readers might be wondering about the types of gambling that takes place inside the United States. Below is a glossary list of the betting opportunities Americans have, along with a quick description of each form of gambling. We provide revenue data for each type below.
- Commercial Casinos: Owned by private companies and publicly-traded companies alike. Commercial casinos can be land-based casinos, riverboat casinos, airport casinos, racetrack-casinos (racinos), or casino cruises. Many have Class III or Las Vegs-style slot machines, while others use Class II Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) or Video Gambling Terminals (VGTs).
- Tribal Casinos: Owned by Native American tribal gaming authorities and based on Indian reservation lands. A landmark 1986 US Supreme Court case (Cabazon v. California) stated Native American reservations are sovereign lands (and thus able to house casinos) if they were recognized by the US Department of the Interior’s Indian Affairs Bureau by 1934 or before. The Cabazon case led to the US Congress passing the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which says Indian tribes which reach a gaming compact with the states they are inside can have casino gambling with Class II slot machines. States can tax tribal casinos for the cost of regulation but can tax more, if the state gives special concessions like statewide monopolies on certain gaming types.
- Card Rooms: Card rooms can exist inside or outside a land-based casino. Many Las Vegas Strip casinos and Atlantic City have their own poker rooms. In certain states, commercial card rooms or poker clubs exist. The Bicycle Club, Hollywood Park Casino, and Cameo Club in Los Angeles are a few examples of private card rooms. Tribal casinos like WinStar World Casino, Choctaw Casino, Mohegan Sun, and Foxwoods have poker rooms.
- Charitable Games: Charitable gaming takes many forms. In most places, charitable gaming organizations host bingo nights, but other forms of gambling are allowed. Not-for-profit charitable gaming organizations sometimes host Las Vegas Nights (Millionaire Clubs), raffles, bell jar competitions, pickle card contests, and pull-tab contests. Pickle cards and pull-tab tickets are similar in many ways to a lottery scratch-card. Bell Jar gaming is a kind of raffle.
- Bingo: Bingo is the most popular and widespread form of charitable gaming. Church groups, veterans’ groups, police and firefighter organizations, medical research groups, and civic organizations all host bingo nights. Organized bingo nights might be found in a dedicated bingo hall, a community center, or a VFW outpost; online bingo has become widely popular as well.
- Lotteries: State lotteries have existed since the early days of the United States. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress funded the war partly with lottery betting. In the latter half of the 20th century, many US states enacted state lotteries to produce public school funding and scholarship funding. Since the 1980s, the multistate lottery associations, Powerball and Mega Millions, have grown to include 44 US states apiece. State lotteries also sell scratch-cards, the best revenue producer.
- Sportsbooks: Legal sportsbooks are found in land-based casinos in Las Vegas. For the past 25 years, sports lotteries are legal in Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. After the US Supreme Court struck down the PASPA federal ban on sports betting in the 46 other US states, any US state can legalize sportsbooks. Delaware and New Jersey plan to open sportsbooks in the coming weeks, while 5 other US states have sportsbook legalization bills in committee. Lawmakers in 13 other US states are discussing the legalization of sports betting.
- Horse Racing: Horse racing has been legal in many US states for generations because betting on horses is considered a less dangerous form of gambling — and one wealthier Americans enjoy. Horse racing, harness racing, and greyhound racing involve pari-mutuel wagering, in which one bettor’s win means other bettors lose. The horse bettor competes against other bettors and not the racebook, though the bookmaker sets the odds based on betting volume for each horse. Off-track betting facilities now exist, with simulcast horse races and betting on historical horse races. Because the horse betting industry has struggled, many states now allow slot machine gambling at horse tracks.
- Online Casinos: Online casinos, poker sites, and sportsbooks were a huge industry in the USA until 2006 when the US Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The UIGEA banned all forms of Internet gambling which were banned for interstate telephone lines under the 1961 Wire Act. From 2007 to 2011, this meant casino sites, online cardrooms, and bookmaker sites. A 2011 US Department of Justice opinion reversed the DOJ’s stance on online casinos and poker sites, so four US states now have legal online casinos and poker sites: New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. New York, California, and others might follow suit eventually. It is estimated that between 65% to 85% of casino revenue in the US comes from real money slots.
- Smartphone Betting: In most parts of the United States, mobile casino and poker sites are banned or unregulated. Now that sportsbooks are legal, live/in-play smartphone betting apps could become legal. Tom King of the Readyfire smartphone trivia apps says legal US sports betting will transform Android and iOS gaming apps in America.
Other Types of Wagering: Other forms of gambling takes place in the United States. 50 million Americans bet on Super Bowl office pools and March Madness brackets each year. Though it’s illegal, so many people engage in office betting that authorities look the other way in most cases. Fantasy football and fantasy baseball leagues involve small season-long wagers. In over a dozen US states, fantasy sports have been legalized, but in many other states, fantasy sports betting is allowed to happen. Some argue that daily fantasy sports gaming sites like FanDuel and DraftKings are sports wagering, but they exist in a gray area. Over a dozen US states have legalized DFS sites. Jai Alai is a legal form of sports betting in Connecticut and Florida.