Gambling legislation in the US is all over the place. States’ regulations on what is legal and what is not are so different that one would probably need an entire life to learn them. For the most part, gambling laws are as dull but some gambling laws are so absurd and bizarre it is actually fascinating.
#1 Alabama: No Sunday Gambling
Alabama is arguably among the most religious states in the country, so it is not surprising that Sundays are sacred there. Spending time with one’s family is a nice tradition, except for people whose idea of fun family time is a poker or bingo night. There is an old law in Alabama (which has not been repealed or amended so far) that bans all forms of gambling on Sundays. The fines for breaking it are not too high, but you may still be expected to pay up to $100.
#2 Florida: Horse Races Are Fine, but No NFL Betting
Gambling laws across the US are nothing if not inconsistent. For example, in Florida, it is legal to bet on horse racing and several other obscure sports, while the NFL is off-limits.
#3 Michigan: No Better Place to Gamble than a Retirement Home
This one is more of a fun trend than a law. Most Americans have to use foreign-owned online casinos to play legally on the territory of the US. Luckily, both traditional and online gambling is legal in Michigan (not for the opponents’ lack of trying). Understandingly, gambling providers are going out of their way to promote what they do. One of the most common types of gambling marketing is advertising in retirement homes, a stronghold of bingo lovers.
#4 Oklahoma: Women Cannot Gamble Half-Naked
The entire US is notorious for the harsh ‘indecent exposure’ laws, but this bizarre legislation in Oklahoma is more about gender inequality. It is illegal for a woman to walk into a gambling institution of any kind if she is in lingerie or a towel. The regulation specifically concerns women. Apparently, the state of Oklahoma is okay with men in a towel but not women. By the way, it is not said if women are banned from playing when wearing only a towel or if a dress with a towel thrown over the shoulders is still a no-go.
#5 West Virginia: No Outhouse Gambling for Taverns
This law probably dates back to the times when it was common for tavern and hotel owners to host illegal gambling events. According to the state government of West Virginia, hotels and taverns cannot allow poker matches or any other gambling activities in their outhouses. Looks like West Virginian gamblers of the past did not have it easy. Otherwise, why would the government have to ban outhouse gambling specifically?
#6 Kentucky: Feel Free to Sue the Winner
No one likes a sore loser, except maybe the state of Kentucky. According to the law, anyone who has gambled away $5 or more and claims to have been wronged can take the winner to court. What is more, if the loser does not do so within six months, anyone else can demand the money from the winner instead. You would still have to prove that wrongdoing took place, though.
#7 Texas: Anything but Poker
The state government of Texas has something against poker. It is legal to operate bingo events, lotteries, and basically everything else. But if you want to open a poker room, you are in for trouble. This looks like one of those laws that should have been amended decades and decades ago, but no one bothered. In any case, it would be nice to find out what the story is behind Texas’s hatred for poker.