Laws—they’re all around us. Everything that you do on an everyday basis has a law that is somehow associated with it in one way or another.
Alive and breathing? There are laws that are standardizing air quality for both indoor and outdoor environments.
Love sleeping and dozing off? There are all sorts of safety requirements for mattresses that are being sold in the market, on the sheets, and even on the detergents that are being used to clean them. There are also laws that govern where you can sleep, laws that can pass liability for your lack of sleep, and so on and so forth.
Fan of eating? The food industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the entire United States, with laws encompassing everything from quality, packaging, advertising, shipping and even disclosures about ingredients.
Like playing on the internet? Yes, believe it or not, the internet is absolutely crawling with laws. From regulations which affect ISPs (Internet service providers), to employment and contract issues for companies distributing and providing content, to intellectual property laws regarding the sharing of content, and a lot more.
With these laws encroaching on our lives in tons of different ways each day, it is extremely important that we understand where and how we fit into that so-called puzzle and what our rights and obligations are to other people and the society we live in general.
People may sometimes act unfairly towards one another, so it really pays to know your rights and the law, in order for you to assert yourself. So even if they say that “ignorance is bliss”, please understand that it does not apply at all times.
One of the most common examples where people take a negative rap is regarding the issue of gambling. Is it right? Is it wrong? But then again, one of your basic rights as a person includes having the freedom to do what you want, without any oppression from anyone. So, if you want to gamble, you can do so, but of course within the confines of the law (and your own moral compass).
Your Rights and Gambling
In regards to your right to pursue whatever it is that you want without the government telling you what to do, one gray area would be gambling. To those not fully aware, gambling is considered illegal in most parts of America except in Las Vegas, Nevada and in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Anyone caught participating in any gambling-related transactions outside of these jurisdictions will be penalized accordingly.
Yes, gambling is not permitted by US laws, but does that deter people from getting involved in millions of gambling transactions each day? The answer is a big NO. Back in the day, people who have the love for gambling discovered a way to gamble and play their favourite casino games even without leaving the comforts of their homes. Enter the advent of online gambling–where people from all walks of life can play casino games online as long they have a means to deposit payments into their online accounts (a debit or credit card), a working computer, and a decent internet connection. Business was booming; everyone was happy, except for maybe the federal government, who came up with ways to curb the increase in the number of US-based residents who are participating in online gambling activities.
So, in 2006, the US government signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and made it illegal for banks and other financial institutions to support the processing of payments associated with online gambling. This move effectively cut the financial connections between regular players, especially those who are US-based, and the online gambling world. This resulted to a lot of online gambling sites pulling out of the US and transferring their businesses offshore to places where gambling laws are a lot less stringent.
As of this writing, a lot of things have changed in the US gambling laws. What was once considered illegal on a federal level is now being made “legal” by certain US States, provided that casino operators, and in some cases online gambling operators, apply for the necessary permits and licenses within the jurisdiction in which they wish to operate. If gambling was only allowed at Vegas and Atlantic City before, now states like Delaware, California, and Pennsylvania are also coming around, with more and more US states following suit.
When it comes to gambling, be it at a land-based casino or via online, it helps to know the gambling laws of the US state you are in because they all have different stances when it comes to the issue. What may be considered legal in one state may not be necessarily legal in another, so it pays to know more about these things lest you want to wake up one day being charged with illegal gambling with no easy way out.
Exploring More of the US Gambling Scene and the Current Gambling Laws
In the United States, gambling is restricted almost everywhere, except in Las Vegas and in Atlantic City, New Jersey. If you do not know this and unwittingly participated in a gambling scheme that turned out to be illegal, you can still be charged with a gambling crime and may be slapped with significant penalties that may result to some serious repercussions. In these kinds of scenarios, knowing your rights and the gambling laws of your state can spell the difference between a safe trip home and a one-way ticket to prison.
The laws related to gambling are not only important for those involved in the industry operating such games like poker, bingo, and other casino-type games, but also for all those regular Joes who want to know whether he or she can start a fantasy football league, a card group, or an NCAA tournament betting pool at the workplace.
Visit this page to learn about the gambling laws in your state.
During the past decades, gambling used to be illegal almost in every part of the continental US, again, except for Nevada and New Jersey. However, as time flew by, more and more states have made various types of gambling legal, ranging from Indian casinos, bingo and poker rooms, off-track horse race betting, and more. While some states have approved certain types of gambling, there are other types that have remained “illegal”, so to speak, like online gambling. In fact, almost all states have laws that ban at least some form of gambling.
The words “gamble” or “gambling” are used generally to discuss an activity that may go against applicable criminal laws. Hence the word “gaming” is usually being used for those instances where the activity has already been legalized by applicable laws or where it is exempted from criminal law prosecution. Thus, if you happen to play a casino-style game at a for-profit website in the United States, then you are considered “gambling”– because no state has yet to finalize a gambling law that grants authority to for-profit website operators to offer any casino games to their visitors.
Online gambling has been more stringently regulated by the US government. Some of the laws that encompass online gambling include the Federal Act Wire of 1961 and UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) of 2006. The former outlaws interstate wagering on sports but fails to address the other forms of gambling. The latter did not specifically ban online gaming, however it disallowed US-based payment processors from participating in any financial transactions involving online gaming services. These rigid regulations made most online gaming operators decide to move their businesses offshore where they can be left untouched by US federal laws.
Gambling may be defined in a multitude of ways but will always require wagers or bets on outcomes that are at least partially based on chance, and done so in the hopes of winning something. Illegal gambling is gambling of any type that is specifically prohibited by the laws of the state.
While on most occasions gambling may involve monetary bets, the courts have ruled that gambling can still occur whenever anything of value is put up as a bet. The amount of bet does not matter. As long as something of worth is at stake, then that activity is considered gambling.
Games of Chance vs. Games of Skill
State gambling laws prohibit games, wagers, or bets that have outcomes that rely at least partially to some element of chance. However, if a competition or game rewards prizes to winners based on skill, such as shooting competitions or car racing, then it is not considered gambling. (Some other restrictions in the law may still apply in order for these activities to be considered legal).
How you differentiate a game of chance from a game of skill depends on which of the two elements have the biggest impact on the game’s outcome. If chance is the bigger factor, then it will be referred to as a game of chance and wagering on games like these will be considered gambling.
And even though some forms of gambling now are considered legal in most states, it is still highly regulated. Therefore, those private betting clubs, though already in wide proliferation, are often still deemed illegal. For example betting pools, small-time poker clubs, and fantasy football leagues are likely to be seen as technically illegal in a lot of jurisdictions, though enforcement is rather difficult and a bit lax. Some of these small ventures though will go against gambling laws such as the UIGEA should they decide to take their business online, normally because the operators either fail to recognize what constitutes illegal gambling or because they are simply not aware of the legal restrictions when it comes to online gambling.
Some Interesting Facts About US Gambling Laws
- The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (2006)
This Act does not make it illegal for players to make wagers or bets. However, this applies to the financial or credit institutions that process monetary transactions for gambling purposes. “Bets” as defined on Section 5262 of this act constitutes:
- The staking of property in order to gain or win something of value based on the outcome of a competition, a sporting event, tournaments or any games of chance.
- The purchase of lottery tickets for a chance to win prizes which is mostly subject to chance
The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act (2009)
This is a bill that provides licensing to certain forms of internet gambling provided that operators pass the necessary state requirements. Licenses will be issued for a five-year period and exempts payment processors from liabilities for processing monetary transactions for such gambling activities. Sports betting is still prohibited under this bill, taking the Wire Wager Act into consideration. The use of cheating devices to rig the outcomes of games is also strictly prohibited to ensure fairness in operations.
- Games of Skills versus Chance. There is a lot of ongoing debate whether playing online poker and fantasy sports leagues can be considered gambling and illegal. Arguments are based on whether skill or chance predominate each contest. For example, Fantasy Sports League contests require a certain skill set in order to assess players, and strategy to be able to properly make drafts and trades. Nonetheless, a significant amount of chance is also present. A participant can draft or trade the most talented of players but the offhand chance that a particular player may get injured will throw away his opportunity to win the league. Also, because the operators of such fantasy sports leagues are yet to be formally prosecuted under the existing anti-gambling laws in place, then the legality of fantasy sports betting is yet to be resolved.