Online poker is gone. You can’t legally play roulette or bet on sports over the internet. So how is Nitro legal? Is it legal at all?

The answer is yes.

Nitro is 100% legal under United States federal law. Unlike poker, roulette, or slots, video games like CS:GO are classified by the government be games of skill — not chance.

How exactly is Nitro legal?

To win money on Nitro, you have to beat someone else. You can’t just close your eyes, make a bet and win. Your skill as a player is what earns you cash.

This post will explain, in detail, everything you need to know about the legality of making money playing video games.

What is the UIGEA?

UIGEA stands for the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act”. It was a bill passed by both houses of the United States Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in October of 2006.

You can read the UIGEA directly from the US government website.

The Summary

This act prohibited gambling businesses from accepting bets over the internet.

What most people don’t realize, is that the UIGEA included a specific exemption for games of skill. This exemption was written specifically for skill contests (i.e. video games), horse racing and fantasy sports.

Jim Leach is the respected congressman who co-authored the UIGEA. In an interview with the Washington Post, he explained the section about games of skill:

The carve-out, as I recall, was considered a kind of footnote. It was never much discussed during UIGEA because it was considered like horse racing, already part of the American betting scene.

You’ve probably heard of Draftkings or Fanduel; every year they payout millions of dollars in winnings because they comply with the skill game section of the UIGEA.

The Details

You can find the skill-gaming carve-out on page 71. It states in respect to the UIGEA, that a game is not gambling if:

(I) All prizes and awards offered to winning participants are established and made known to the participants in advance of the game or contest and their value is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by those participants.
(II) All winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals (athletes in the case of sports events) in multiple realworld sporting or other events.

Or… in plain English:

(I) the prize pool is shown to you before you join and doesn’t change with the number of people joining the game.

(II) you need to use your skill to win the prize.

Nitro will tell you the monetary prize before you join a game, and it’s no secret you need skill to win in CS:GO.

The UIGEA applies to every payment system except for Bitcoin. In order to work with payment processors like PayPal, Visa or Mastercard, Nitro has to be legally verified with banks in the United States.

I live in Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Maryland, Tennessee… why can’t I play?

Although skill-games are legal by federal law, certain states don’t want their residents wagering. We know, it sucks.

Iowa - Code. Ann. § 725.7(1) prohibits pay-to-play and win activities without regard to whether the game is classified as a game of chance or skill.

Louisiana - La. Rev. Stat. § 14:90(A)(1)(a) prohibits pay-to-play and win activities without regard to whether a particular game is classified as a game of chance or skill.

Maryland - MD Code § 12‐102(a)(4) prohibits residents from any betting or wagering on games.

Montana - M.C.A. § 23‐5‐151 states unless specifically authorized by statue, all forms of public gambling, lotteries, and gift enterprises are prohibited.

Tennessee - Tenn. Code Ann. § 39‐17‐502(a) prohibits wagering without regard to whether a game is classified as a game of chance or skill.

Conclusion

All of Nitro's contests are operated 100% legally under United States law. The US Government and 45 of the 50 states consider video games as games of skill.

We do not allow residents of Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, or Tennessee to play due to state-specific regulation against cash prize awards.

We take the legal status of our games very seriously. If you have any questions related to this topic, please email legal@nitro.gg.