US Online Casinos
We have recently decided to expand our reviews to include casinos that welcome US visitors. Due to the ambiguous nature of the legality of gambling online in the US, we will only list reputable casinos that have had no issue with the law and welcome US players openly. If you would like more clarification on the legality of gambling online in the states, read below for more information
Online gambling laws in the US can be a bit confusing for players because this part of the industry is still evolving. It is strange that even as casinos continue to sprout up across the country, the same very games are being blocked online for reasons that are not very clear.
US Gambling Laws For Online Gambling
People have been gambling in America and all over the world as far back as recorded history goes. It was the European settlers in the seventeenth century that brought with them many games we know now like Poker, Roulette, Baccarat, and Blackjack.
Gambling and lotteries began to grow at a fast pace in the USA before gambling was outlawed in 1910. Nevada became the first state to legalize gambling in 1930 followed by Atlantic City in 1977. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which came about in 1998 made running native Indian casino’s much easier. This led to an increase in the casinos across the country although some states have found this act contentious and are lobbying against it.
Federal Wire Act
One of the acts that are used to target online gambling is the Federal Wire Act of 1961. This act was specific to outlaw any interstate wagering on sports but did not mention any other form of gambling including real money casino games, online poker, slots or any other form of gambling.
This act passed in 1961 continues to have the most impact on online gambling even now. It was, of course, passed at a time when it was impossible to try and predict the arrival of the internet and the ease with which interstate transactions could be monitored.
The original intention of this act was to try target organized crime families since they were offering sports betting over the ‘wire’ or the telephone.
The act, which served its purpose by targeting mob bosses, unfortunately, has also been used to limit online gambling. It was only in 2011, a full fifty years after the act was passed, that the Department of Justice clarified that this act was applicable only to sporting events and not to other kinds of online gambling activities.
How does the Federal Wire Act affect you?
The US Government does not intend to (as stated on the FBI website) and has never in the past targeted individuals with this act. The worst that can happen is that your money may get stuck if the site you are gambling with gets prosecuted.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)
The UIGEA which was passed in 2006 has probably had the most impact on online gambling in the US and is responsible for a number of big names withdrawing from the space altogether. Interestingly, this act was tacked on to another safe bill at the last minute and passed in an underhanded manner by some conservative elements of the government.
This act aims to stifle online gambling by making the processing of gambling payments illegal. The actual act of gambling itself is not illegal, but if you cant send or receive money, it makes the entire process worthless. At least that’s what the theory behind this was.
There are some notable exceptions to this act including fantasy sports betting and pre-existing legal interstate gambling markets.
So does this act make it illegal for people in the US to gamble online? It does not because it is not outlawing gambling. It instead puts the onus on casinos which are handling the financial transactions. Loopholes in the act have meant that plenty of online casinos registered outside of the US still continue to accept payments and process them for US citizens.
The last major instance of the UIGEA being used to bring down casinos was in 2011 when sits like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were brought down.
What does UIGEA mean for you?
Once again, it does not mean much. Since there is no real clarity on where current laws on online gambling stand, individuals are never prosecuted under this act. The risk of losing your deposit or accumulated earnings if the online casino you are gambling with is prosecuted.
State Online Gambling Laws
US Citizens must look up the specific state gambling laws that apply to them because they vary widely from one place to the next. Nevada has made online poker legal while New Jersey and Delaware have made all online casino games legal.
There are several other states that have applied to make online gambling in the US legal and it is considered a matter of time before the industry gains equal status to that of traditional casinos.