According to industry reports, the commercial gaming industry brought in $40.28 billion in gaming revenue in 2018, a 3.4 percent increase over 2016. Although gambling is legal under U.S federal law, each state is free to regulate or prohibit gaming practices within its borders. Meanwhile casino employees in the 22 U.S. states that allow commercial gaming in some form, must obtain a gaming license from their state. These states require different licensing based on the specific position of the casino.

This is why you need to contact the gaming office of the state where you wish to work to determine what kind of license you need and the specific requirements. After finding out the requirements, take your time to fill the application carefully. Besides basic questions about Social Security number and addresses, applications ask about your criminal background, government connections including those of family members, financial history and citizenship status.

The managerial applications require more detailed information about finances, including personal and professional assets if you plan to invest in the casino business. Be cautious and take your time to answer the questions. You must agree to a background check and sign a document swearing the information you provide is truthful. It’s very important that you make copies of the required documentation if you plan to mail the application.

For instance, Colorado allows applicants to mail in the form with a photocopy of identification such as a driver’s license, ID card or passport. Have it in mind that your fingerprints will be taken at an official location such as a state gaming office, police station or sheriff’s department. You may also have to pay a fee for this service. Put together all required documents and fees and mail it to the appropriate office or visit the office in person.

In Colorado, if approved, you can get a temporary license within one hour if you deliver the materials to the gaming office. If you mail the materials, the department may issue approval the next day. Do not forget to contact a state gaming office if you have questions while filling out your application. Incorrect or incomplete information can result in rejection or delay of your license.

Also if you provide false information on the application, the state may deny or revoke your license and may even prosecute. Note that you may not qualify for a gaming license if you have a criminal background, are currently under indictment or have familial connections with judges or gaming boards in the state. Properly explained below are the requirements and basis for obtaining a gaming license in some U.S states that allow commercial gaming.

How to Get a Gaming License in Each State of USA

  1. Arizona

State Certification and/or a Tribal Gaming License are needed by the Tribal-State Compacts before an individual may be employed by a gaming facility in Arizona. All tribes with gaming facilities have a Tribal Gaming Office (TGO), as required by the compacts. The TGO issues the Tribal Gaming License for the gaming facility; all gaming employees must have a Tribal Gaming License to work in a casino.

Note that all prospective gaming employees must initiate the employee certification process through the casino’s Tribal Gaming Office. Prospective employees complete an application and pay the required $250.00 fee at the casino. The TGO are then mandated to forward the application and the fee to the Department of Gaming. At that time the Department will begin an intensive investigation into the background of the applicant.

The fingerprint cards are submitted to the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Note that the department shall issue temporary certification within 24 hours or 20 days, (depending on the tribes agreement with the State), upon receiving a complete application, unless the background investigation discloses that the Applicant has a criminal history, or other grounds sufficient to disqualify the Applicant.

Once the completed background investigation reveals nothing that would preclude the applicant, the Department will issue a State Certification and forward it to the TGO. But if the background investigation reveals that the applicant is not suitable for State Certification, the Department will issue an intent to deny the application, which entitles the applicant to a hearing.

  1. California

Indeed working in a gaming establishment requires the applicant to have a valid work permit. Most states call it a “gaming license” but in California it is called a “Work Permit”. To obtain this work permit, you must first fill out the Initial Regular Work Permit/Temporary Work Permit application. Note that that leaving out information on purpose or lying on this form is against the law and you will be committing perjury. It’s advisable that you be honest about your past and do not omit anything! For a regular work permit for gaming positions, you must:

  • Fill out Part I, III and IV of the Initial Regular Work Permit / Temp. Work Permit application.
  • Fill out the Work Permit Questionnaire
  • Complete the authorization to release information
  • You must obtain a 2×2 passport sized colour photograph of your head that is less than 30 days old.
  • Provide a copy of your valid California drivers license or state issued ID card.
  • If you are a naturalized citizen, you must provide a photocopy of Certificate of Naturalization
  • If you are a resident alien, provide photocopy of both sides of your resident alien card.
  • Submit an application fee of $250. Should be paid via check written out to the Bureau of Gambling Control. This is in addition to the fee paid to the Live Scan provider who will process your fingerprints.
  • You must submit your fingerprints for processing. You do this by first filling out the Request for Live Scan Service form. After you fill out the form, you need to call the Live Scan facility to make an appointment and processing your payment for the service (this is NOT included in the $250 fee mentioned above.
  1. Colorado

The Colorado Division of Gaming and the Gaming Commission issue six types of licenses for individuals and businesses that meet their licensing requirements. Because a Colorado gaming license is considered a public benefit, evidence of lawful presence must be provided and verified. An applicant is required to submit a photocopy of the required form(s) of identification with the license application.

The individual is also required to present himself/herself in person at one of the Division of Gaming offices and bring the original document with him/her before the license can be issued. Meanwhile, out of state applicants have another option in lieu of presenting themselves in person. Also when completing the application, applicants may have their identification (the same identification photocopied and submitted with the application) verified by law enforcement when the Verification of Fingerprints form in the application is completed.

This verification must be completed by law enforcement during the fingerprinting process. If it is not, applicants must present themselves in person as detailed above. Have it in mind that renewal applicants (excluding expired renewals) will be allowed to submit their applications without completing either process since their identification has already been verified.

  1. Delaware

The Delaware Gaming Board meets every fourth Wednesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. All meetings are open to the general public and are held in the Cannon Building, 861 Silver Lake Boulevard, in Dover. To ensure that your license application is on the agenda for the Board to consider at its next meeting, submit the application and all documentation no later than ten full  business days (excluding federal and state holidays) before the next meeting date. The Board will review an application only if all of the following requirements are met:

  • The application form must be complete, signed and notarized. As forms are subject to change, be sure to use the current form from the Forms page each time you apply for a permit.  Obsolete forms will be rejected.
  • The correct fee must accompany the application. Applications without fees will be rejected.
  • The application must include all supporting documentation as spelled out in the Licensure Requirements.
  • Your organization’s After Occasion Reports (AORs) must be up-to-date. AORs are due no later than 30 days after a gaming event.  If your organization’s AORs for past events are overdue, the Board will not review your application.
  1. Illinois

To obtain a gaming license in Illinois, you have to first make sure you are located in a municipality that allows video gaming. Note that the online application for an IGB license is a fairly involved process. It has 10 parts in all, and certain personal documents will have to be signed, scanned, and uploaded for inclusion in the submission. When you submit your application, you’ll be consenting to an extensive background check (if you’re an owner or key employee), along with any other co-owners and, potentially, many management employees.

The background check can result in disqualification of your application if it reveals, among several factors, an extensive criminal record, certain types of convictions, or questionable business associations of any of the owners or key employees being reviewed.

Becoming a licensed video gaming establishment in Illinois requires an investment of effort and planning. There are several regulatory and technical tasks to complete in order to get from your initial idea to operating video gaming terminals (VGTs) at your location.

  1. Indiana

Generally speaking, any employee of an Indiana casino who works in the casino or handles money from the casino must be licensed by the Commission. Note that the Commission does not offer a state-wide license, rather the Commission issues occupational licenses at each casino. To apply for an Indiana occupational license, an individual must first have an offer of employment from an Indiana casino.

The license granted at a specific casino expires following termination of the licensee’s employment with that casino and is not transferable to another casino. As part of the hiring process at the casinos in Indiana, the human resource personnel at the casino will provide a prospective employee with the appropriate license application depending on the position being filled.

The applicant is expected to complete the application and provide any supporting documentation. A copy of the applicant’s birth certificate or some other form of naturalization papers must be provided with the application. If the applicant has an arrest record or criminal history, the applicant will be asked to submit court documentation showing the outcome of all arrests or criminal charges. An application fee, which helps offset the cost of the commission’s investigation into each applicant, must be paid with each application.

The application fee will be paid by the casino, but the casino may require individual occupational licensees to provide reimbursement and may deduct the fee from an individual employee’s pay check. The Gaming Commission staff conducts an extensive background check into each applicant. Each applicant who will receive an identification badge that is processed, photographed, and fingerprinted by the gaming agents at the casino.

After Commission staff conducts a preliminary review and investigation, an applicant may be issued an identification badge and a temporary license which will allow the individual to work while the full investigation is performed. Note that a permanent license will be granted only if, after the investigation is complete, the applicant is determined to be suitable to hold a license.

  1. Iowa

Note that all persons participating in any capacity in a excursion gambling boat/gambling structure/racetrack casino in the State of Iowa is required to obtain an occupational license from the Commission. A license is valid for three calendar years. All licenses are temporary until the completion of required background investigations. Each applicant is expected to complete and sign an application form prescribed and published by the Commission and pay a license fee set by the Commission, as well as any other associated fees that may apply.

  • License Fee: $10 for Non-Gaming Licenses, $20.00 for Gaming Licenses
  • IRS 4506T Tax Form Fee: $6.00. This fee is assessed by the IRS to process the form that is included in the background investigation for only Class A and Class C licenses.
  • Fingerprint Fee: $42.00. The Commission shall charge the applicant the fee set by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Investigation to cover the costs associated with the search and classification of fingerprints.
  1. Louisiana

In Louisiana, no person may be eligible to apply or be granted a license if he has been convicted in any jurisdiction within ten years prior to the date of the application or less than ten years has elapsed between the date of application. The state does not grand a license unless the applicant has demonstrated to the division that he is suitable for licensing. To request gaming license, you’re advised to contact Louisiana State Police – Gaming Enforcement Division at (225) 922-2155, or via fax at (225) 922-1580.

  1. Massachusetts

Have it in mind that certain employees at a Massachusetts gaming establishment must be registered or licensed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission prior to commencing employment. Registrations and licenses are required to make sure that those involved with the gaming industry meet the statutory requirements of good character, honesty, and integrity.

Immediately you have been offered a position at a casino, Human Resources will provide you with specific instructions on which application is required. Once an application is accepted, it becomes the property of the Commission and may not be withdrawn without notification to and in some cases approval of the Commission.

Key Gaming Employees and Gaming Employees will be required to apply for licensure with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, using the Licensing Management System. All licensees and registrants have a continuing duty to update the Commission on certain information

  1. Michigan

The state law requires many casino employees and employees of companies that supply goods and services to casinos to be licensed by the MGCB. Note that you must first apply to the casino’s or the supplier’s Human Resources Department. Have it in mind that the MGCB will not process an occupational license application without a written statement that the casino/supplier has or intends to hire you.

If you are hired or the casino/supplier company extends you an employment offer, you must complete an occupational license application for submission to the MGCB. The casino/supplier will have more information regarding application procedures. Once your application and fee have been received, the MGCB will conduct a background investigation and determine whether an occupational license will be issued.

Background investigations may take several weeks depending on the license level and complexity of the investigation. Also the MGCB may issue a temporary occupational license if a preliminary review of the application and a computerized criminal history check do not indicate any discrepancies that could result in denial.

Temporary licenses are valid from the date of issue until an occupational license is granted. The MGCB may renew a temporary license if no disqualifying information is revealed during the investigation. Have it in mind that the MGCB will deny an occupational license if you have been convicted of:

  • Any felony
  • A misdemeanour involving gambling, theft, dishonesty or fraud
  • You also may be denied a license if the MGCB determines you are not suitable due to your integrity, moral character or reputation.
  1. Mississippi

To get a gaming license in this state, you’ll have to complete a work permit application after being hired, filling out all biographical information, and employment and criminal history, in blue pen. You will have to fill and complete all supplementary forms, including: Request to Release Information Form, Disqualification Notice and Acknowledgement of Criminal History.

After that you’re expected to turn over the application packet to the human resources department for review. Incomplete applications are generally rejected. After careful inspection, the company representative will add your name and contact number to the MGC Fee Log. You’re also charged with paying the $150 application processing fee. You’ll have to send the application packet through your company to the local MGC District Field Office, along with the original fee log and a copy of the company check, at least one week before scheduled processing.

The original check and a copy of the fee log will be mailed to the MGC office in Jackson. The processing schedule varies by district office and whether you applied at a casino or through an independent licensee. You’re also expected to report to the district office on the day of processing, with a government-issued picture ID, to have fingerprints and photograph taken. Submit to a background check. Allow two days for results to come back.

  1. Nevada

To obtain a gaming license for the operation of gaming devices within your business, you will need to apply with the Nevada Gaming Commission and State Gaming Control Board. This board is responsible for issuing and regulating gaming licenses within the State. You will have to submit an application for a restricted license, which includes your personal history, financial information, and a criminal background check.

The application is very extensive and requires multiple forms. Visit the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission website to access all of the necessary forms

  • Form 1: A two page document that details your identify and the type of license you need. You will enter your name, mailing address, and the gaming devices you plan to offer.
  • Form 2: All the names of your partners, directors, shareholders, and bonus and profit sharing information.
  • 12 page personal history questionnaire: This form requires 3 character references, your name, age, citizenship, previous residences, family information, arrests, litigations, detentions, military record, and a 25 year employment history.
  • Form 20: Your financial status including the revenue you will invest, the source of revenue, and if you will play an active role in managing the gaming activities.
  • Form 15: Information about the location of your primary business, the maximum number of patrons you can have, your business hours, if any of your customers will be minors, the original floor plan, 3 pictures of your business, and a copy of the lease or deed.
  • Form 27: Determines if the slot machines are secondary to your primary business
  • Forms 10, 17, 18, 28, and 28A give the Board permission to conduct a criminal background check and access your financial information.

You have to pay a $150 application fee and a $550 investigation fee. These fees are non-refundable. You may also have to pay other investigative fees or make a deposit before the investigation begins.  Once the Board has reviewed your application and completed their investigation, you will be notified about your public hearing.

The Board may or may not request that you attend the hearing. Do not worry if you are asked to appear, the Board may simply need additional information. It typically takes 6 to 8 months to go from filing your application to having your hearing. This time frame may vary depending on the complexity of your application and the workload of the Board and Commission. After your hearing, your application may be accepted, denied, approved with conditions, or referred back to the Board.

  1. New Jersey

Individuals who work in casinos, Internet gaming or sports pools may require a license or registration depending on the kind of job they perform. Each applicant for a Casino Key Employee License must produce information, documentation and assurances concerning their qualification to hold the license. An applicant must establish their financial stability and responsibility as well as their good character, honesty and integrity.

A casino employee who holds a Casino Key Employee License must be a resident of New Jersey, unless the casino receives a waiver from the Commission because the employee is required to be employed outside of New Jersey. If you wish to apply for a Casino Key Employee License, you must complete and file either the Personal History Disclosure Form 1B, or the Multi-Jurisdictional Personal History Disclosure Form AND the New Jersey Supplement.

The original form(s) and one copy are required. You must also submit two copies of the most recent five years of your Federal and New Jersey tax returns. You will be photographed when you file your application. All forms must be accompanied by the required application fee. Note that all applicants must be fingerprinted by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement unless digital fingerprints were previously taken by the Division.

An appointment is required. If you have any questions regarding the Casino Key Employee License forms or the licensing process, please email or call the Licensing & Financial Evaluation Unit at 609-441-3441 from Monday to Friday during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  1. New Mexico

To obtain a gaming license in New Mexico, you’ll have to get your applications from the New Mexico Gaming Control Board located at 4900 Alameda Blvd. NE or from the board’s website at www.nmgcb.org/licensing/forms. Items you’ll need to provide includes:

  • Application forms (completed with notarized signature)
  • Photocopy of official valid ID ( driver’s license or state-issued identification card)
  • Completed fingerprint card (in duplicate)
  • Photograph of applicant (in duplicate)
  • $75 application fee for a three-year Universal Gaming Work Permit (exclusive of any additional costs)

Once the Board’s office receives the work permit application, you should  receive a gaming work permit with your photo within one week if no problems arise. The work permit will allow you to begin work in a gaming establishment. You will be given a letter that stipulates any specific or standard conditions that have been placed on your Work Permit by the New Mexico Gaming Control Boar

  1. Ohio

Casino gaming is a new industry in Ohio, having been approved by voters in an amendment to the Ohio Constitution in 2009. The Ohio Casino Control Commission was created in 2011 to regulate the four casinos authorized by the constitutional amendment, located in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo. The bipartisan commission is made up of seven commissioners, who are supported by an executive director and commission staff.

The commission is invested with the power to license, regulate, investigate, and enforce rules and regulations on anyone involved in casino gaming in Ohio. Also, the commission is currently developing rules regarding the regulation and licensing of skill-based amusement machines in Ohio. Meanwhile, every casino operator, casino employee, and gaming vendor must be licensed by the commission prior to participating in the casino gaming business in Ohio.

State law requires anyone applying for licensure to establish their suitability to obtain a license. It’s very much advisable that you employ the services of a qualified lawyer when looking to obtain a gaming license in Ohio. Gaming licenses are tightly regulated in Ohio by the Casino Control Commission, and you will surely benefit from representation by a skilled lawyer who has experience before this commission.

  1. Pennsylvania

Generally, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) requires a Gaming Employee Permit for any employee whose job duties require day-to-day interaction with gaming patrons, gaming equipment or gaming revenues. Note that the application must be completed in the SLOTSlink electronic application system. Access to SLOTSlink will be provided to each applicant by his or her employer once a job offer has been extended.

Have it in mind that all submissions must be in English. Should an applicant be unable to understand the application fully in English, it is the applicant’s responsibility to acquire adequate means of translation. If an applicant submits a document to the Board that is in a language other than English, he or she must also submit an English translation compliant with 58 Pa. Code §423a.1(h).

Also note that every Gaming Employee Permit applicant will be required to provide general information and answer a series of Yes/No questions at the beginning of the application. Once an applicant has completed the application, the casino human resources or compliance office will notarize and submit required documents that have been signed by the applicant. Included with these signature documents is IRS Form 4506T-EZ.

This form allows the PGCB to verify the applicant has filed federal taxes. All required documentation must be submitted at the time of filing an application. Further, the applicant is under a continuing duty to promptly notify the Board if there is a change in the information provided to the Board. In addition, the PGCB reviews the state tax status of each applicant as reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (DOR).

Applicants who receive a letter from the PGCB informing them of delinquent tax conditions must immediately contact DOR as instructed on the letter. Failure to resolve delinquent tax conditions will result in the application being delayed and possibly recommended for denial. Each applicant must also be photographed and fingerprinted by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP).

The casino human resources or compliance office will provide a list of acceptable identification required for the fingerprint and photograph process as well as assistance with scheduling an appointment with onsite PSP personnel.

  1. South Dakota

A person licensed by the commission who is working or who is about to work for an operator or retailer as a card dealer, slot machine technician, floor supervisor, cashier, shill, proposition player, slot route runner, pit boss, a member of a count team, computer monitor for progressive links, or in any other way directly related to gaming must complete the South Dakota commission on gaming application.

The application fee is $50 and the license fee is $50 with a calendar year (January through December), renewal fee is $25. The Commission on Gaming has converted its forms to the ADOBE .PDF format (Portable Document Format) which is both device and resolution independent.

The printed version of these PDF documents will be similar regardless of the device used to print. All applicants must submit completed fingerprint cards with their application to the South Dakota Commission on Gaming. The cards must be obtained from the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, Deadwood office at (605) 578-3074.

  1. Washington

The state gambling rules require any applicant to complete the state’s training course within 30 days. After receiving your application, a licensing file is created and a Licensing Specialist is assigned to review and evaluate your application. A Special Agent may be assigned to conduct a criminal background check. Investigations may involve local police as well as state, federal, national and international authorities to ensure all persons that have a substantial interest in a gambling business are qualified to be licensed.

A copy of your application may be forwarded to the Special Agent assigned to your area. The agent may contact you to inspect your business site. Also note that you may be contacted during the licensing process to determine you eligibility to hold a license. The Commission may request additional information such as leases, corporate papers, by-laws, purchase agreements, financial statements, criminal history statements, personal information forms, fingerprints, etc.

Once the investigative process is complete, your application will be reviewed to determine if you qualify for a license. If your application is approved, a license will be mailed to you within one to two days of approval. If your application is denied, you will be provided with an explanation. The most common reasons for denial are insufficient information, failure to pay the proper fees or issues discovered during the criminal or financial background investigations.

You may supply additional information to prove your suitability or you may voluntarily withdraw your application. If you do not respond to requests from staff for additional information, the commission may close your file. If you do not pass our criminal or financial backgrounds checks, you’re allowed to request an administrative hearing to explain your circumstances to an administrative law judge.

  1. West Virginia

Commercial gaming activity in the state is regulated by the West Virginia Lottery Commission (“Commission”). The Commission regulates both electronic VLTs and table games. Note that this analysis will focus solely on table game licensure in the state and will not address video lottery terminals, as these devices are sold solely to the Commission, not directly to gaming locations, and there are a limited number of VLT providers licensed in West Virginia.

The Commission requires that all individuals or entities that sell gaming devices and supplies to a licensed facility hold a license issued by the Commission. Applicants must complete the “Gaming-Related Supplier License” application form. In order to complete the form, the following information is needed:

  • Basic identification information
  • Description of business
  • List of investors holding 5% or more interest in the applicant
  • Description of goods and services provided to the gaming facility
  • List of ownership interests in other licensees
  • List of government agencies having jurisdiction over the applicant
  • Regulatory action history
  • Debt, insolvency, and bankruptcy history
  • Tax action history
  • Criminal history
  • Prior names and addresses, past five years
  • Estimated annual volume of business with West Virginia gaming locations
  • List of financial institutions where business accounts are held
  • Civil litigation history
  • Identities of key persons;
  • Description of former business conducted
  • List of securities and debt offerings
  • List of gaming licenses applied for or held.

Conclusion

Generally, gambling is legal under U.S. federal law but there are key restrictions when it comes to interstate and online gambling. Every state in the United States is free to regulate or prohibit gambling within its boundaries. According to industry information, only two states completely outlaw all forms of gambling, Hawaii  and Utah. However, casino-style gambling is much less widespread.

There are 22 states (and two U.S. territories) that allow commercial casinos in some form: California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington, and West Virginia.

Some of these states do not have well detailed licence information or procedures. You’re advisable to ask relevant questions and visit your local county when looking to obtain a gaming license.