Even though there are relatively tough laws in the US that outlaw Internet gambling, understanding the true status of online gambling in the US is more complex than one might first imagine. In recent years, the US federal government passed a sweeping law that took most of the wind out of the online gaming industry’s sails. But despite the federal government’s attempts to control Internet gambling, it remains an industry notorious for eluding capture and prosecution. But with the legal status of online gambling the way it is, individual players must sometimes use clever websites that can help sidestep the law in order to get their online gaming on. That’s where the legal status gets a little hazier. If you want to understand the legality of online gambling, consider the following points.
Federal Law Makes It a Crime to Bet Online
Yep, the feds can come after anyone involved in online gambling practices, and that has almost completely stifled the Internet gaming industry, shutting off a number of sites’ access to the lucrative US market. So while there remains a high interest in online gambling, especially for games like poker, the law clearly makes it a crime to transfer money over the Internet for the purposes of gambling. Modeled after other gambling regulation legislation, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) attacked the money as it crossed over certain boundaries, which made taking bets through cyberspace virtually impossible.
Smart Sites and Players Find a Way
In the face of the federal government’s anti-Internet gaming laws, some online casino and poker sites simply shut down. But some schemed to devise a way around the legalese of the national law. So instead of transferring money for gambling, some sites offered visitors the ability to purchase credits or some other sort of unit of value, which could then be used to make bets. Other sites have developed simple fantasy leagues for games like poker, where the money is all fake. But rest assured, intrepid gamers in seek of gambling can inevitably find something online. Whether it is illegal or not according to the federal law is a sticky question that is often up for interpretation.
Where Does the Law Stop?
Many think the federal status of online gambling in the US could cause problem for the rest of the gaming world. If a foreigner wants to move money from his offshore bank account into another international bank that makes deposits on his behalf, but he uses a computer in the US to do it, should it be illegal under the spirit of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act? Is the user or the site liable? What about the bank? These types of questions hound those in the online gaming industry, and the industry and the government still have a long way to go to find the right solutions and implement regulatory systems that make sense for everyone.