English: A logo for the website Gambling Gazette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Online gambling is a big industry – and getting bigger all the time. But online gamblers in the U.S. might find themselves hesitant, as there remains a fair amount of confusion over whether or not online gambling is actually legal. This comes as no surprise, as the 2006 internet gambling law – The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act – leaves quite a bit of gray area regarding the legal implications for the gambler, though there are very specific regulations applied to the companies providing the service.
This “gray area” has led to a lot of myths and assumptions among online gamblers and, unfortunately there is no clear cut answer to the question of whether online gambling is a prosecutable offense in the U.S., at least not for players.
Online casinos are illegal in the United States; that much is clearly stated in the 2006 internet gambling law. But it is impossible to regulate online casinos operating from overseas, and so online gambling still exists. From here, the legal liability of the individual players varies greatly from state to state. A person would have to check directly with their home state’s gambling commission to determine the specific laws that apply to them.
On the other hand, regulating personal internet use is a weighty matter of citizens’ rights that is considered completely separate from gambling laws. It is largely for this reason that most states, even if they do have specific laws prohibiting online gambling, do not actively enforce said laws or otherwise penalize those found in violation of the 2006 internet gambling law.
If there are penalties to be imposed for violation of the 2006 internet gambling law, they are usually applied to the banking institution responsible for transferring funds to the online casino. The burden of enforcement of online gambling laws has been placed on financial institutions though, again, these laws are rarely enforced and so most debit and credit cards will still work just fine for online gambling purposes. However, if you ever do experienced issues with transferring funds drawn on a U.S. bank to an account with an online casino, this could very well be the reason. A phone call to your financial institution regarding the transaction will verify the cause of the issue.
In addition to understanding the possible implications of the 2006 internet gambling law, there is the simple matter of protecting yourself with good, old-fashioned common sense. Before turning your bank card information over to a random online entity, do a little background research. This is wise for any internet transaction – not just online casinos.
So, are you in violation of the 2006 internet gambling law? Sadly, the answer is probably yes, though the rules for players remain largely ambiguous and, as such, generally unenforced. The majority of online gambling regulations apply to the casinos, themselves, and to the banking institutions used to facilitate transactions with online casinos based overseas. Players of online casino games remain relatively free of these regulations, at least for the moment.