Is Online Gambling Legal For U.S.A. Players?

Gambling in the United States is a bit of a cloudy and complex issue these days, and we think that it's important to have a basic understanding of factors that influence it. This article is dedicated to covering those things, some obvious some not, in order to educate readers on the legality of American gambling plus answer the all important question, 'Is gambling legal?' which is the reason for the page.

Keep reading as we're going to jump right into things starting with some information about the laws that follows immediately.

There are several gambling laws in the United States that relate to sports gambling, casino gambling, and playing poker... both online and in-person. But despite whatever these laws say, there is always some type of option that Americans can utilize even when living in the states with the strictest gambling laws.

The most basic of the gambling laws that extend across the United States begin at the state level. Most notably, gambling ages are decided by each state and are the first place to start whenever contemplating gambling over the Internet or at a local gambling hall. The minimum age to gamble usually varies from 18 to 21 and it is very important to know what that age is in your state because failure to meet that requirement can spell doom before you ever get strated. Those bettors who meet the minimum age requirements both in their state and at the online betting site will be able enjoy all the activities offered by that provider without fear of being suspended, having their accounts closed or being denied payouts.

Beyond the laws that regulate the gambling age in the U.S., there are others which make specific reference to gambling and in some cases, online gambling. There are three laws that are most commonly cited because they are active and affect gambling from the federal level.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), the Federal Wire Act, and the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PAPSA) are the three laws which set out to prohibit all forms of un-permitted gambling.

Of these three laws, only one of them actually pertains to online casinos and online poker (UIGEA), but all three do pertain to sports betting which is a major player in the gambling trinity. Let's jump right into each of those online gambling laws beginning with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

The UIGEA was passed in 2006 as an attachment to the Safe Port Act. The sad thing about this law being attached to the Safe Port Act was that the main bill was to prevent terrorism and therefore this legislative pork was guranteed to pass. Furthermore, this law was added to the bill at the last moment by advocates against having regulated and legal online gambling sites, only because they knew any bill that combated terrorism in a post 9/11 America was a sure thing to be passed by Congress. As a result, we are now stuck with the UIGEA for the forseeable future as opposition has already come up short.

What the UIGEA does, is prohibit American banks and businesses from processing electronic payments with processors that are known to handle gambling transactions. Essentially, it tried to cut the legs out from under the gamblers by making funding a hassle or in some cases, impossible. But, they failed in one respect as it is still totally possible to make payments to gambling operators using a credit card or even a debit card. Furthermore, this law only created new ways to deposit and now Americans typically have no issues when depositing money into real money gambling sites which is a big middle finger to the law.

It is important to note that the UIGEA does not pertain to the individual bettor making that wager. Therefore, bettors are able to deposit into gambling sites without having to worry about violating the UIGEA even when their transactions are declined.

The UIGEA is just another example of a law that is in effect that really has no bearing on whether or not you'll actually be able to make a deposit and you're definitely not going to get in trouble for depositing. That is the theme throughout this article that you should take away; the laws are just scary words that actually do nothing to inhibit U.S. players from gambling and that especially rings true with online gambling.

The Federal Wire Act and PAPSA relate specifically to sports betting online and in-person. The Wire Act was enforced for other aspects of betting, until a 2011 ruling which constricts its jurisdiction to sports wagering only. The Wire Act prohibits bets from being placed and processed using forms of wire communication. When it comes to other forms of online gambling, there has not been a ruling made by the Supreme Court. However the ruling by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stipulated that the Wire Act covered sports betting exclusively, opening the door for legal online poker and casinos of the like.

And with respect to PAPSA, it was established back in 1992 (effective Jan. 1, 1993) and defined what constituted sports betting. The next steps taken were to outlaw the practice, though with certain caveats allowing states with a 10-year history of a legally licensed casino a one-year period before it went into effect to create their own sports wagering laws in the state.

Here are again though, the Wire Act relates to betting businesses, and the act of processing a bet or wager. The individual bettor is not affected, and therefore can still wager legally at online sportsbooks, online casinos, and online poker sites.

There are also a number of state gambling laws that are enacted at that level, for which there are too many to go over. But the point is that states decide a large portion of their gambling laws. Fortunately for those of us who enjoy betting, we can still do it legally while living in the United States, it's just important to be mindful of the laws in the U.S.

In closing, we want to convey that we are only experienced gamblers which have spent a ton of time (and money) gambling online. We talk to other players and have our finger on the pulse of the gambling community. Through this, we've learned what actually happens when you gamble in the U.S. which is what you've just read. Please know that we are not legal professionals but we do recommend consulting one if you are living in an extreme anti-gambling state or just feel uneasy. It may cost you an hour or two of an attorney's time but it would be well worth it if you plan on gambling for the foreseeable future.