Everything is done online these days, whether it be banking, playing a game, reading a book, or catching up on missed episodes of your favourite TV show. Only problem for Americans is, they’re not allowed to gamble online.
In the early 1990’s the first ever gambling website was created. They quickly grew in popularity, increasing from just 15 websites in 1996 to 200 websites by 1997.
Americans are allowed to gamble, but only in specific states. At federal level there is a strict ‘no’ against the concept, although currently there are debates about it in politics.
On April 30th, 2013, the poker world saw the launch of the first legal website for online gambling in the USA. The website is currently only legal in Nevada, although it is believed that before long there will be a breakout of states legalising online gambling.
The UIGEA (PDF) summary, as written by the United States Treasury Department, specifically:
Prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.
While it’s illegal to gamble online and it is also illegal to host servers in the United States, it is almost impossible for anyone to be charged as people are gambling from their own homes. There isn’t really a way of tracking them down and if there is, you would probably agree that it isn’t worth the time and the effort, is it?
Confusion reigns supreme in US laws regarding this matter. The Wire Wagner Act makes it illegal to place bets through electronic wire, which includes the internet. This means if a person in the US were to play a hand of poker online in a casino set up in the Netherlands, the server host in the Netherlands would be breaking US law. But, the only problem is the US government doesn’t have the right to charge someone in another country. Then, say the Netherlands casino refused to pay the winnings to the player in the US; the player would have a tough time suing the casino when they’re breaking the law themselves.
When agreeing to the terms and conditions of a gambling site it is your responsibility to find out the laws of gambling where you live. It’s also your responsibility to make sure you’re of the legal age limit in your local area. If you do have a big win and the regulators decide to look further into it before paying you, your lucky break could be deemed void. If this were to happen, not only would you lose your winnings but also any money you’ve deposited into the site.
Online gambling is now legal in just over 70 countries around the world, including Australia, South Korea, Denmark, Finland and many more (read more about online gambling in Europe). I find it strange that the USA has left behind the opportunity to tax casinos and further increase their profit. Anyway, if people want to play, they’re going to find a way to do it, legally or illegally.
USA do have very confusing laws. If I lived there and wanted to make some quick money online, I believe it’d be safer to head over to Nevada and test my luck. Rather than do that I’d probably just head to the local casino. US laws are far too murky and there are too many risks associated with either losing your money or being charged. If I were an American, I’d be sitting back and hope my state changes the law!