Online Gambling Laws In The USA

Thanks for visiting the USA gambling laws page here on The federal government and the state governments in the U.S. have laws in place to regulate gambling, both on land and through the Internet. The laws that have been formed extend to all three major phases for gambling in the U.S. They are casinos, poker, and sportsbooks. Forms of land-based gambling exist in various places across the United States. Online gambling regulation is quite a bit different, because the access to them is far vaster. From a legal perspective, there are several laws restricting gambling here in the United States. With that said though, the laws against gambling still allow for it to be done legally in both forms, on land and through the Internet.

To understand why gambling can still legally be done despite laws against it at one level or another, it's best to explain the laws individually to understand the concept and reasoning behind them.

Gambling online has grown tenfold over the last several years for a couple of reasons. First, the access to the Internet and the online world is at an all-time high, and the outlets in which U.S. residents can reach the web are as well. Second, because of the accessibility, more and more gambling sites are popping up.

The United States government took a big stand against online gambling site operation in the U.S. back in 2006, when they passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This law was a part of the Safe Port Act, and passed as an attachment thereof. The UIGEA was devastating to gambling sites within the United States, because they were specifically targeted. The way a gambling site works is by accepting bets and wagers for real money from American players. The UIGEA passed, and this could no longer be done. American gambling sites could not accept payments for bets, it was banned. The sites were either shut down themselves or seized by the federal government and forced to pay a penalty.

One bright spot for the U.S. bettor was that the UIGEA addressed only the operation of the sites though. While the sites' days of operation were at an end, not all hope was lost for bettors looking for other ways. Sites operating offshore were now the way to go to fill the void. American bettors could do this without violating the UIGEA because they were not targets themselves, only the sites were.

Because of the fact that online gambling sites are easy to pull up with the Internet, American players never really lost a step because it's as if they were playing at American sites with how they were specifically markets to U.S. bettors.

The UIGEA covers all phases of online gambling, but sports betting takes the biggest hit of them all because of the laws that add on top of this to this specific area.

Two laws in particular, the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act, and the Federal Wire Act cover sports betting only. Neither specifically applies to online like the UIGEA, as PASPA covers land-based, and the Wire Act targets sports betting businesses.

PASPA passed back in 1992 and banned betting on sports across the country with the exception of a few states. PASPA didn't exactly go through a cafeteria pick the states that were going to be exempt; there was a strict and specific process that had to be followed in addition to criteria that states willing to follow would have to meet.

The minimum of 10 years with a licensed gaming history was very important, as was the one-year window to apply. Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware were the only four states in the U.S. to go through with it. Now you know why all of those Las Vegas sportsbooks are still legal.

As for the Wire Act, this legislation dates back to 1961. Its original intent was not for sports betting. This was determined by a Federal Court in 2011 which gave jurisdiction of the Wire Act to cover only betting on sports.

The Wire Act states that betting businesses cannot be aided by any form of wire communication to process a bet or wager made by a bettor. You might notice a similar theme between this and the UIGEA as far as striking only at the businesses. This would be a keen observation because of the fact that the individual bettor seems to be left alone. What the federal government might have failed to take into account was that sites would pop up offshore. Or perhaps, the federal government accomplished what they wanted by getting rid of the online gambling sites in the country.

But online gambling sites were only gone for so long, because states have the ability to bring legislation and pass laws to implement legalized gambling in their area. States have long held the power to determine the legal age to gamble, which will fluctuate between 18 and 21 years of age depending on where a player lives. Now though, we are seeing states pass legislation allowing forms of online gambling in their state.

Take for instance Nevada, which recently passed an online poker bill allowing state-regulated sites to open and be played by residents and tourists. Or let’s look at New Jersey, a state that has passed online gambling legislation but could not actually have licensed online gaming websites until early 2014.

The debate on Capitol Hill continues to rage on as well, with many in the house and senate in favor of federal online gambling legislation, or at the very least the repealing of the UIGEA, Wire Act, and PASPA in favor of complete state control over gambling regulation.

The area of gambling at land-based site and on the Internet has never been at a more interesting time than now, which certainly is making for an interesting ride.

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