Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Is Online Gambling Legal in the U.S.?

Online gambling is huge.
If you're confused about the legalities of online gambling in the United States, you're not alone. Gambling online in the U.S. is actually legal, but the laws vary from state to state. In fact, the states cherish their right to regulate gaming within their own borders.

Trying to understand the many and varied rules and regulations, however, can be daunting and confusing, not to mention time consuming.

Search Google for "Is online gambling legal in the USA" and you'll get "About 1,610,000 results" related to the subject. Who's got time to sift through all of that? And even if you did, knowing that you're getting the right information is - pardon the pun - a gamble.

I was glad, therefore, to become aware of a website called UnitedStatesGamblingOnline that offers comprehensive legal online gambling information for United States players. UnitedStatesGamblingOnline provides tons of facts about legal online gambling in every state, details about the laws in those states, legal explanations of the various types of online gambling, gambling news and much more.

Gambling is immensely popular. Millions of Americans gamble legally in Nevada and New Jersey, where players lay down their bets on everything from professional sports games to … well, you name it.  Most states today operate lotteries and more and more cities are allowing casinos. Some states now even let you play their lotteries online.

So, with the timeless popularity of gambling, the fact that it's legal in some form or another in every state except Utah and Hawaii, and with the advent of the Internet, it stands to reason that online gambling should be wide open and completely legal.

I said in the beginning of this article that online gambling is legal in the U.S. But there have been some attempts at the federal level to make placing bets via your computer more difficult, causing some misconceptions about online gambling's legality that persists today.

Gambling has changed over the years
A law passed in 2006 had a chilling effect on the industry. The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) caused much confusion, and nine years later many people still think that the UIGEA 2006 bill made it illegal for US players to enjoy online gambling. However, that's not true.

The UIGEA "was put in place to regulate how online gambling transactions are processed, and was designed to protect players and their investment," says UnitedStatesGamblingOnline.

" The only real affect that the law had on players is that some gambling brands and payment methods chose not to jump through the regulatory hoops required by the legislation, and instead left the US market, hence slightly reducing selection for players in the United States." But today, notes the website, "there is a nice selection of legal online gambling sites that welcome US players."

Unfortunately, sports betting is different than, say, playing poker online. Currently, federal law is inconsistent. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), passed by Congress in 1992, restricts nearly all of the states from legalizing sports gambling. PASPA actually limits sports betting in the U.S. to four parts of the country: Oregon, Nevada, Montana and Delaware. The unfortunate effect of PASPA has been to keep ethical operations out of the business, while illegal sports gambling operations thrive. The Federal Wire Act also comes into play. The Department of Justice decided that it applies to sports betting, thereby making it illegal in the U.S. The 1961 law "specifically prohibits betting or gambling businesses from using a wire communication facility to transmit interstate or foreign bets, wagers and related information."

There is a current push by some governors and members of Congress to repeal PASPA and update the Federal Wire Act to take the Internet into account. This would bring online sports betting into the sunlight with other forms of online gambling that are already legal.  Sen. John McCain, for example, says that Nevada should not be the only state allowed to have legal sports betting.

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