The Weirdest Gambling Laws in the USA

Gambling and law theme with playing cards and judge gavel

In the USA, most laws about gambling and casino games seem to be aimed at when and where you are allowed, or not allowed, to participate in gambling of a certain kind. For example, there are only a few states where online gambling is legal. It pays to know the law when it comes to gambling legislation, as a simple slip up could land you in some serious trouble. Usually, tradition and culture are the main culprits behind the strange laws surrounding gambling in the USA. Many legislators make outdated rulings to preserve their traditions and established culture.

Weird gambling laws

What makes a law weird? Well, most laws are put in place as serious and structured guidelines for the balance and security of the lives of citizens. However, there are laws that are so ridiculous and bizarre that citizens cannot help but laugh or be confused by them, more than they tend to obey them in the end. One example of a particularly puzzling law is that it is possible to bet on a horse at a racetrack anywhere in the country, but it is illegal to do so at online casinos and sportsbooks. Did you know that it is illegal for women to gamble in Oklahoma if she is only wearing a towel,  lingerie, or if she is nude? That is just the tip of the iceberg for the strange laws that the USA has for the gambling industry. 

Let’s take a look at some of the other laws and see just how odd things get.

North Carolina bingo

The state of North Carolina allows charitable institutions and organizations to use bingo for fundraisers. By law, a single session of bingo may not last longer than 5 hours at a time. It is also illegal to have more than two bingo tournaments in the space of one week. The two tournaments are not allowed to be held on consecutive days. Therefore, a bingo weekend is out of the question.

Kentucky turns losers into winners

In the state of Kentucky, gamblers have a chance to get their money back. The Loss Recovery Act allows any gambler who loses $5 or more while gambling to sue so that you can recover the money. Not only do you have a chance at getting your losses back, but you are able to sue for up to 3 times the amount you lost. What’s more bizarre is if the player who lost does not sue the winner within 6 months, then anybody else can sue the winner on their behalf. It makes you wonder if the guy across the table is losing on purpose and gambling on potentially winning 3 times the losses back. This law was put in place to deter people from breaking the state’s gambling ban.

West Virginia location lockdown

In West Virginia, there is a massive section in the gambling statutes dedicated to where gambling may legally take place. As it stands, tavern and hotel owners may not host gambling of any kind in their outhouses. In fact, if the owner of a tavern or hotel allows anyone to gamble in their outhouses they are committing a misdemeanor. They could end up spending a few months in prison, including receiving a fine and the loss of their business license. One can only come to the conclusion that at some point in West Virginia’s history, there were enough people gambling in outhouses that there needed to be a strange law to prevent it.

Alabama Sundays

Greetings from Alabama vintage rusty metal sign vector illustration

According to the Alabama Criminal Code, it is illegal to race, hunt, play cards or play dominoes on a Sunday. This section of the law isn’t found in Alabama’s gambling statutes, but rather in the entire section dedicated to activities that are illegal on Sundays. The origin of the law may have something to do with the tradition of not working on a Sunday. It is still hard to believe that it would be illegal for your kids to play go fish on a Sunday afternoon or race each other around the neighborhood on their bicycles. You probably won’t be arrested for playing dominoes or any casino games on a Sunday. However, if you are caught, there is a chance that you could face a fine from $10 to $100.

Laws for online gambling in the USA

There are only a few states and territories in which you are legally allowed to gamble at online casinos in the United States of America. Let’s go through and highlight some of the weird laws that govern online gambling in the US.

New Jersey

New Jersey is currently the largest marketplace for online gambling in the United States. There are over a dozen legal and licensed online casino sites that compete for an overall market that is worth more than $225 million a year. One of the strange restrictions that New Jersey faces with its gambling laws is that sled dog racing is only allowed for agricultural fairs and exhibits.


Regulated sports betting was introduced in Colorado in May 2020, just 6 months after the public voted for the legalization of retail and online wagering. This makes Colorado the 18th state to have operational and legalized sports betting. The weird part comes in under C.R.S. 18-10-106, which states that transmitting gambling information by telephone, telegraph, or radio is a class 3 misdemeanor that can become a class 6 misdemeanor for repeat offenders.


Used Michigan instant scratch games lottery tickets

Michigan has a funny relationship with gambling and casinos, both online and land-based. Michigan has no laws against online gambling. Although, state lawmakers once enacted a bill that made online gambling illegal in Michigan, only to overturn it the following year. Even weirder is the restrictions, or lack thereof, on gambling at carnivals and retirement homes. Companies promoting bingo games tend to tour retirement homes across the state.


Indiana is a conservative Midwestern state that has widespread gambling. Indiana launched sports betting in 2018, just in time for football season. The retail sports betting books opened in September 2019, along with the state’s first online mobile betting app. The weird law about gambling in Indiana is an old one, but certainly very odd. Back in 1993, when casinos were first legalized, casinos had to be located on the water. Ohio River and Lake Michigan are the two common waterways where you can find these riverboat casinos. The restriction to water was later relaxed when racetracks were finally permitted to offer slots and video poker.

All these weird gambling laws sure do raise an eyebrow and a chuckle. Whether it’s for online or land-based casinos, some US states have gone out of their way to address the gambling industry. If you reside in a state that allows you to play online casino games, why not try your luck with us at Borgata Online Casino?