Prior to 2011, online gambling was a huge money-making enterprise in the United States. The country that invented poker has been swept along with the rest of the world in the obsession concerning the version of the game known as Texas Hold ’em, and the online gambling industry was raking in over two and a half billion dollars a year just from players playing online poker.
Then, on Friday, April 15th 2011, the United States Department of Justice took down online poker’s three biggest sites, namely PokerStars, Fult Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. These sites accounted for 90% of the online poker market, and all three immediately shut their doors on US online poker players. This day became known, by the online poker-playing community as ‘Black Friday’. One poker pro, Matthew Roth of Alaska, was so distraught by the shut-down he took his own life.
The state of online gambling in the US is confusing and ever-changing, so much so that many sites save themselves risking the wrath of the US Justice Department by simply banning players whose IP addresses indicates they are using a computer in the United States. As long as a site operates outside the US, it remains completely legal, and it is not illegal for a US citizen to use such a site. The only aspect of illegality that’s definite is it’s illegal for a bank to facilitate a banking transaction with a site by which you can gamble online. All this means is it can be difficult to pay into your gambling account in order to obtain stakes, and it can be equally difficult to withdraw your winnings.
There is good news ahead, though. Most US states are now pushing through laws that allow online gamble at regulated sites; and on April 30th, 2013, the first legal US-based online gambling site, Ultimate Poker, opened its virtual doors, but only to Nevada residents.
If you’re a US citizen, and you’re too keen to gamble to wait for your state to catch up with Nevada, here are the top ten non-US gambling sites who will still take US-based gamblers.
5Dimes is the most popular gambling site on the internet that takes US citizens without a quibble. It has a sportsbook section, meaning you can gamble on the NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL. There’s also a racebook for gambling on racehorses, and both casino and poker options. You can even play the 5Dimes lottery. 5Dimes promises a daily menu of at least one thousand wagering options.
In December 2011 the US gambling site Bodog.com reacted to the loss of their USA market after Black Friday by upping sticks to Canada and renaming themselves Bovada. “Bovada” is a splicing of the words Bodog and Nevada, the US state most associated with gambling. The Bovada site has four main sections: Sports, Casino, Poker and Horses. To tempt you into gambling the site offers a $3,000 maximum welcome bonus.
Another site who abandoned the US following Black Friday, BetOnline moved to Panama City in 2011. In 2009 BetOnline hired a climber, Tim Rippel, in an attempt to get him to place a wager whilst atop Mount Everest. He didn’t quite make it, laying the bet at 26,000 feet, but the bet (on the Lakers beating the Rockets in an NBA game) was a winner. BetOnline donated the winnings to charity. BetOnline has the habitual spread of gambling options, from horse-racing to poker.
Announcing itself as the world’s premier gambling site, Sportsbetting are based in Antigua and Barbuda. They have up the minute sports news, and you can wager on any of the latest sporting events. The site offers a 25% bones on every initial deposit, and a 100% bonus on slots. They also hold poker tournaments where the winner walks away with a guaranteed $250,000.
As anyone knows, Las Vegas is THE adult’s playground. This site attempts to recreate the hedonistic nature of Las Vegas within your browser. All your favorite casino games are available, including Poker, Blackjack, Baccarat and Bingo. New clients receive a 150% initial deposit bonus up to a maximum of $3,000.
A casino-only site, Win Palace has more games on which to gamble than you could possibly imagine. There are the standard options like Craps, Roulette, Blackjack and Poker (including video poker), and dozens of options when it comes to online slot machines. Win Palace offers a $1,000 max 200% matched bonus, up to $3,000 for slots.
Another site that offers a very generous bonus, up to $3,000 if you can match that amount with your first deposit. If slot machines are your thing, then you can take on other players all over the world in slot machine tournaments where the winners take home big prizes.
When it comes to welcome bonuses, Lucky Red tops the list with a 400% bonus up to a maximum of $4,000 (only 100% and $1,000 for some games), although you can only cash out any winnings from your bonus, and with some games, such as Blackjack, you have to wager 25 times the wager and bonus amount (therefore $25,000 if you go for the maximum bonus). There are the usual array of games.
This site seems to be aimed at lady gamblers, judging by its appearance, and concentrates mainly on online slots, although other games are available. As a welcome bonus you can claim 20 free spins and a 65% match bonus daily for the first four days of your patronage.
A fun-looking site, Loco Panda concentrates on the casual gambler, with the emphasis on slot machines and bingo. There are also table games such as Blackjack, Baccarat and even Gin Rummy, but no Poker aside from Video Poker. Their welcome bonus varies from between $4,000 and $1,000, depending on what you want to play, but they have regular weekly bonuses for consistent punters.