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A Brief Overview of Gambling Laws in The Southern States

In the U.S., gambling is governed by state laws, and each state decides which forms of gambling are permitted, where they can happen and how they are regulated. The activity is further regulated by the states’ local jurisdictions (such as counties and cities), which have the right to decide what works and what doesn’t in their areas.

So, to make sure you’re not breaking any rules, we did a sweep of the American South and put together a brief overview of gambling laws to consider.

Let’s take them state-by-state:


Gambling is not that popular in this Southern state, and most such activities are not allowed. Here are the ones you can practice within the state lines.

Sports betting on greyhound and horse racing is allowed, and gambling happens via pari-mutuel pools, with the races transmitted on TV.

Bingo is allowed under charitable gambling laws, but it is strictly regulated. The state of Alabama defines gambling activities as games with some element of chance, so they don’t have a state lottery either.  


Similar to Alabama, Arkansas also features a highly restrictive gambling policy. They allow dog and horse racing, and the only casinos allowed are called “racinos,” where you get some casino-style gaming but in combination with dog and horse races. Furthermore, until 2005, the state didn’t allow electronic gaming machines to be used.


The Sunshine State is permissive when it comes to gambling activities, as people can participate in casino betting, dog racing, off-track betting, popular casino card games, horse racing, off-track horse racing and more.

If you’re of legal age and a resident of Florida, you can enjoy a fun adventure at any of the licensed establishments in the state.


This state is a bit stricter than the first two as they also prohibit dog and horse racing. The only allowed gambling activities are raffles for charitable events.


The Bluegrass State is also restrictive when it comes to gambling and only allows betting on horse racing in the pari-mutuel system. Casinos and other gambling establishments are banned.


The Bayou State allows casinos in certain jurisdictions and gambling on riverboats (which is anything floating in the water) and commercial cruise ships.

Another state that also allows gaming on riverboats and some casinos is Missouri. They also have horse racing and an official lottery intended to fund public education programs.


Mississippi directs any taxes and gain that come from gambling activities toward programs designed to strengthen the community. So, its residents can have a bit of fun and support locals in need.

As such, the law allows for betting on horse races on a legal cruise ship casino, and there are licensed, regulated casinos in some counties. These are, in fact, cruise vessels that sit on the Mississippi River or the waters surrounding an area where gambling is approved.

The Carolinas

North and South Carolina have strict gambling rules. But, while in the north you only have access to casinos on Indian reservations, South Carolina allows betting on horse racing and gambling on casino cruises.


Yet another state with restrictive gambling laws, Tennessee allows its residents to bet on horse racing and has an official state lottery. Bingo is also permitted as an activity for raising funds.


Texas doesn’t allow its residents or visitors to play Texas Hold ‘Em or any other kind of gambling cards games. However, there is some betting on horse and greyhound racing and social gambling such as raffles, office pools and bingo.


If you like betting on horse races, Virginia may be the perfect state for you.
Otherwise, you may need to visit a different state to enjoy some good old casino fun. But, this state is working on changing the situation, as quite recently the governor signed on a gambling expansion bill that could bring casinos, sports betting and online gambling to the state.

So, operators like Casumo casino may be available here in the future.
The state also allows for charitable gambling and betting on games of chance in the privacy of your residency. Furthermore, there’s an official state lottery that’s used to support public K-12 education..

West Virginia

West Virginia is a bit more accepting when it comes to gambling. The state allows for casinos and pari-mutuel dog or horse racing facilities, which is a bit more than what most other states have to offer.




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