When you first heard about internet gambling, you might have been surprised by the fact that it was allowed to happen. When live gambling in casinos is so heavily regulated, how could internet gambling be legal? And even if the law allows gambling, statistics would have to show that only fools would play, right?
Forget the hype, but know the facts.
Online Gambling – Is it Legal?
The answer to this question? It depends. There are two major federal laws related to internet gambling:
- The Interstate Wire Act of 1961
- The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006
The first law made it illegal to use wire communication for gambling purposes. But, in 1961, lawmakers couldn’t have envisioned the internet. So although the internet does uses ‘wires,’ the exact meaning of the term allowed for too many loopholes.
So, in 2006, the second law was passed. It focuses on the online gambling company rather than the gambler. It is a felony for any company to accept any money related to online gambling. This is why the companies you can gamble with online are located outside of the US where it is difficult prosecute. But, the government also expects US Banks to stop money from going to these online companies. Because of this, you might eventually have trouble paying for online gambling with your US bank account or credit card. However, it is not a problem at the moment.
So while the federal government won’t come after internet gamblers, they could still be breaking the law. The UIGEA leaves it up to the states to determine whether or not internet gambling violates their state’s laws. Experts believe that any law states might pass would make it a misdemeanor to gamble online rather than a felony. And again, there is no expectation that states would pursue the gambler rather than the gambling company. But if you have any concerns, you should check with your state’s gaming commission to understand whether or not you are violating any state laws.
Basic Online Gambling Facts
There are several different types of online casinos, and we can only expect for them to get more elaborate as online gambling evolves. Today, the three main ones are:
- Web-based Casinos – these casinos allow you to play without downloading software and the possible pop-ups or spyware that may come with it. These casinos will require that you have a higher speed internet connection than the other types, since you’ll be transferring the games and graphics across the web as you play.
- Download-based Casinos – these sites require that you load their software onto your computer before you can gamble or play the games. These are generally faster, making them popular with players. Of course, you have to go through the initial set-up process, and you are risking the possibility of downloading software from an ‘unknown’ source – which always includes the chance that you could get a virus as well.
- Live-based Casinos – here, you are actually playing in a ‘live’ or ‘chat’ environment. Today there are even webcam-based casinos where you can watch a live dealer and even other players. This is as close to a walk-in casino as you can get on the internet.
Safety is probably the largest concern that online gamblers have, but when it comes to gambling, statistics show that trust in the industry continues to increase. This is evident in the increase in the number of players and funds invested between 2000 and 2006. It is estimated that the industry grew from about $10 billion to more than $14 billion in just these six years. You can gamble online safely if you take the time to investigate your options. Before you invest your money in playing, check ecogra.org, an independent, nonprofit agency that rates and approves online gaming sites.