All About Legal Online Casinos In The USA
Are online casinos legal in the USA? How does the UIGEA apply to legal online casinos? Why are some states starting their own online casinos while others seem to ban it?
We've heard all kinds of questions about legal online casinos in the USA. We've heard lots of misinformation being spread. It's time to clear everything up. We've got all your questions answered, so read on before you play just anywhere.
Are online casinos legal in the US?
Here's the thing. Federally, there's actually no law against gambling on the Internet. No federal court has made a ruling concerning someone playing casino games online. But anyone following legal developments knows the United States is made up of a bunch of different states. Fifty of them - each one enacting its own laws and regulations. And that's where it gets confusing. A few states actually have expressed Internet gambling prohibition on the books, but most states don't go out of their way to ban online casino gambling. In fact, many states that make it some sort of crime or misdemeanor to gamble with friends don't actually have anti gambling laws on the books.
Why is there so much confusion regarding legal online gambling in the USA?
The confusion over legal USA online casinos has to do with states making their own laws. But it also has to do with rumors and media reports over United States legal developments. For example, when the big three poker sites were shut down, the media reported that poker and gambling had been banned by the UIGEA. That simply wasn't the case - as any legit attorney could easily point out.
Casino players keep talking about the UIGEA. What's that about?
The UIGEA stands for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Passed in 2006, it basically makes it illegal for a gambling company to accept a payment that's connected to unlawful gambling. And it essentially leaves it up to credit card companies to make sure transactions aren't related to gambling.
Unfortunately, the law never defined what constitutes "unlawful" gambling. For players at online casinos, legal arguments were made that the sites they were playing at weren't violating any laws, therefore, they can legally continue to play.
What's the difference between the UIGEA and the Wire Act?
The Wire Act makes it illegal to transmit a wire related to betting. Enacted in 1961, before legal US online casino gaming was ever a concern, the Wire Act applied primarily to sports betting.
Does the Wire Act apply to online casinos?
As online casinos in the United States grew into a billion-dollar business, the Department of Justice seemed to take the stance that the Wire Act applied to them. Legal USA professionals took the case to court, and in 2011, the Department of Justice clarified that the Act does not apply to online casinos, or anything not related to a sporting event or contest.
What's the difference between a game of skill and a game of chance?
One of the main arguments against the UIGEA was that unlawful gambling shouldn't apply to poker because it's a game of skill, not chance. A game of skill is a game where mental or physical skill determines the outcome as opposed to pure chance. Online casinos legal in the USA are filled with games of chance, like slots and craps. However, it's argues that many games involve skill, especially table poker games and blackjack. This is why they should be legally allowed.
I've heard about state-by-state legalization? What's that all about?
There was a push in 2011 and 2012 to make online casinos legal in the US at the federal level. While playing at a legal online gambling site that serves US players today isn't against the law in most states, legalizing at the federal level would mean extra tax money for the government. Federal regulation never happened, but a few states decided to move ahead with legalized online gambling anyway. That includes New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Some states are regulating just online poker while others are turning to make online casinos legal in the United States (or in their state, specifically). Delaware, on the other hand, is creating a state-run casino.
Are other states going to follow with their own legal USA online casinos?
Probably. As the first few states start raking in money, it's likely that many others will jump on the bandwagon and regulate online gambling within state lines.
If a state doesn't have legal online gambling, can I still play legally?
Yes. There are thousands of online casinos open to US players. If legal online gambling exists in your state, you can play confidently as long as it's regulated.
How can an online casino be considered legal if a state doesn't regulate it?
When you choose to play at a reputable site, you're choosing one that's licensed and regulated in major markets around the world. There are a few international gambling bodies that oversee online casinos. Instead of having a license issued by an individual US state, the big and reputable casino sites get their licenses from an internationally respected organization. That means there are tons of legal online casinos in the United States to choose from. However, they happen to be licensed outside the United States.
How can I tell reputable online casinos from not-so-reputable ones?
There's a lot to consider when looking for Internet asinos in the USA to play at. A license is a great start, but it's only the tip of the iceberg. There are other factors to consider, like who's behind the site, what kind of game selection they have, what payout percentages are like, how easy it is to deposit, how long it takes you to get your hands on your winnings, what the customer service is like, and so much more.
But rather than go digging for the answer, you can start right here. And don't forget to check your individual state law or if you are really concerned, even consult a local attorney, before you play.