Posts Tagged ‘Is it legal to gamble online’

Is It Legal To Gamble Online?

November 28th, 2012

legal to gamble onlineMany of our readers ask “is it legal to gamble online?” Here are our comments on this important question.

Gambling online is a great way to pass the time, and in some cases, win some extra money. There is a fine line that you must be very cautious about crossing, though, and this is the line of legality. Online gambling is not legal everywhere, and the boundaries set in the United States are both complicated and debated. You must be aware of the laws and precedents set before you join an online casino, deposit any money or play for winnings. Knowledge is key to protecting your assets and yourself from prosecution.

1. Online Gambling in the United States

This is a complicated matter, and one that can get confusing. First you must understand that online gambling did not begin in the United States, it began in the Caribbean nation of Antigua. It has grown astronomically since then, not just in the number of online casinos you have to choose from, but also in popularity.

The first attempt at making online gambling illegal was in 1999 when the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act was introduced. This act tried to prevent companies from offering any online gambling products to United States citizens. This act did not pass.

Fast forward to November of 2002, and here we have the Wire Act. The United States court system ruled that it was illegal for any electronic transmission of information for bets on sports through lines of telecommunications–computers. The court also stated during this ruling that the wire act doesn’t prohibit online gambling for games of chance. However, the Department of Justice continues to publicly state, despite the ruling, that this act covers all types of gambling.

In September of 2006, President Bush passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. While this act does not affect your right to gamble online per se, it has a trickle down effect. This act was geared toward banks and other institutions such as credit card companies and money transfer service companies like PayPal. It makes the transfer of funds to and from these institutions illegal. This in turn makes it more difficult for you to gamble online for money. Some casinos, most of which are located overseas, stopped catering to players from the United States because of this. Well, until their stocks dropped by 60 percent.

2. State Laws

Here we are with yet another complicated situation. Is it, or is it not, illegal to gamble online in your particular state? So far we have concluded that the only *real* legal issue comes to placing sports bets online. Although the Federal government would like to interpret the wire act differently, it is in place and deems games of chance legal. So now it comes down to state laws, which do vary.

One thing is definite, and that is playing social games–the free games you do not pay to play–are not illegal. Some may be casino games, however, if it is just in the social context, you are fine.

The next thing the state looks at is if the game is a game of chance. This falls in line with the wire act. How they determine this is not known. The assumption is that poker requires skill while roulette is left to chance. Again, this is determined by the state you live in.

Yet another inconsistency between states is what is considered a misdemeanor and what is a felony. Every state makes its own determination on this. Chances are, though, that it is difficult for you to get caught gambling online for money because you are doing it from home.

3. Gambling Online Overseas

Okay, here is the kicker. Online gambling began in other countries and this is where most online casinos are still located today. However, there was an act passed in 2000 in Australia regarding licensing an operation. It is the Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act, and it states that any online casino not licensed and operating prior to May of 2000 is illegal. You see, although online gambling casinos have no organizations to regulate them, they must be licensed to keep them fair for all.

Is it legal to gamble onlineSo basically, gambling online for money using a casino in another country is perfectly legal because it is legal in that country. However, you must find a way to set up your account and deposit, then find a way to receive your winnings. If the Feds or the local authorities find out about your online gambling, they have no jurisdiction to prosecute the companies running the casinos in these other countries for one obvious reason–the do not have to follow the laws of the United States.

If you want to take a chance, then online gambling may just be the biggest game of chance there is. Although certain laws and acts are in place to prevent you from gambling using your computer, do not be afraid. This post is not telling you to risk your safety or push the lines of legality, just follow the fine lines carefully, as they have been laid out for you. We hope this will answer the question, “is it legal to gamble online” and prepare you with what you can expect. Have fun!