There are a lot of casino sites that offer free bonuses to play real money games online — but most of them are either not available to US players or are bad sites you should not play on.

In case you are new to the world of online casinos in the US, allow me to take a step back and explain why things look like they do in 2020.

(If you don’t want to learn about the history of online gambling in the US, open the list of casinos with free bonuses!)

The 2007 UIGEA
The reason why it is SO hard to find a good online casino with a free signup bonus that lets you play for real money in the US comes down to four letters: U I G E A.

Known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, the UIGEA is the bill that put real money casino games on hold in the US.

Since the Bush administration passed that bill, all the online casinos that offered real money games online had to close their doors to US players.

Or, well, they should have done so. Because some continued to operate in spite of the legislation — but we will get to these ones later. (Spoiler alert: don’t play there. Those sites are illegal)

I won’t bore you with the details and with every single thing that happened between 2006 and 2020. Here are the most important bits you should know:

The UIGEA stopped real money gambling in the US in 2006.
Real money gambling online is now legal (again) in a few states.
If you are in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania you can play legal casino games online for real money.
Now that you know about the legislative framework in place in the United States and the reason why only few casino sites offer free bonuses to play real money games to US players, let’s look at what legal options you have.

Online Casino with Free Signup Bonus in the USA
All these online casino sites give you a free bonus on sign up.

Some, like the ones that accept New Jersey players, welcome you with a real money bonus.

Others, if you register at the right time, will let you play with a no deposit bonus or free spins on registration.

On most casino sites, however, you need to make at least one deposit to trigger their welcome / signup bonus. While deposit bonuses are usually not as attractive as the free ones, they also come with easier wagering requirements and a set of terms and conditions that makes it easier for you to withdraw the money when you win.

Personally, I see these websites serving two very different purposes:

The US casinos with free real money bonuses that do not require a deposit are perfect for a quick game. You register, claim the bonus, and you use the free money to play.Whenever I want to try a new online casino, I always pick one with a free bonus with no deposit required.
The US casinos with a deposit bonus are different. Those are the sites I pick when I plan to play for a longer time and where I plan to explore more sophisticated casino games like online blackjack or internet roulette. When I play on these websites, I know that I don’t get immediate value (aka. free money) but I also know that I will get a lot of good promotions and freebies in to play for longer.
Last, but not least, are the social games like poker online.

You may think that social casino games are not as exciting as real money ones only because you don’t actually win anything. But that’s wrong.

In 2020, the software houses behind these free-to-play games are at least as big and advanced as those ones that produce real money casino games.

Think about this: not everyone feels comfortable spending their money to play games online. Not everyone wants to invest their hard-earned cash on games where the house has an advantage.

Whether you play slots, roulette, or you think you found a way to execute the best blackjack strategy to perfection — you are always more likely to lose money than to win it.