Online Gambling

Is Online Gambling Legal?

Disclaimer: while this article has been well researched, the author is not a lawyer and this article should not be taken as legal advice. You are strongly encouraged to ask for a pertinent opinion from a lawyer.

There is much confusion about the legality of gambling online, with no sweeping clear-cut answers. The laws vary from country to country, and in the United States, state to state. But it is certain that no US citizens have been prosecuted for placing bets in online casinos. This is because there is no federal law against playing online. It is advisable to know and understand the law in the state which you are in. One gambler from North Dakota went afoul of the law when he won over $100,000 dollars on sports bets and was made to pay a fine of $500. It is noteworthy that this isolated incident involved two things, very large winnings, and, sports bets (not casino, poker, slots or blackjack). A US Attorney has even made the statement in House hearing that, “placing online wagers does not violate federal law.”

Until a law is passed strictly forbidding gambling online, offshore casinos operating poker, slots, and blackjack games will still be taking bets from American citizens. And it is not likely that any such law is ever to be passed. There are bills being drafted in congress like Sen. Robert Menendez’s of New Jersey which designates poker as an “online game of skill.” (and so it is, why do you think there are roughly the same people at the final table at the World Series of Poker? Are they the luckiest six on the face of the Earth?) If this bill and others similar to it are pushed through congress, it is likely that legal online gambling will be defined and provided for, instead of being cast off to a murky gray area which benefits no one.

The 1961 Wire Act, which prohibits bets over the telephone, has terminology related to sports betting. There have been high profile arrests of bookmakers who accepted sports wagers from US gamblers. Though the government didn’t go after the bet placers specifically, it is still very risky and quite possibly illegal to place a sports bet online from inside the US. Nevertheless, it’s only the service owners that are being pursuit in such cases, so, unless you own a sports betting service and run it off a server physically located in the US, you should be safe.

So is online gambling legal? In all instances you should check your own state’s gambling laws, but these kinds of games are clearly not being targeted: Poker, Blackjack, Slots, Table Games, Roulette, and Keno.

While legal online gambling is still a gray area, there are many casinos that are accepting US customers to play their online gambling games. 70% of online wagers are US based, and hundreds of thousands of Americans participate in games of chance and gambling online.

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