Gambling Laws in the US
Generally speaking, gambling involves the wagering of something of value on an uncertain event. Depending on the type of gambling, it may also involve the risk of losing something. Some forms of gambling are illegal in certain countries, while other forms of gambling are legal.
Traditionally, the US federal government left it up to the states to regulate gambling. In recent years, the US Supreme Court has overturned the federal ban on sports betting. However, many states have not yet made the jump to legalizing online gambling. A number of states are considering laws that would allow residents to bet on sports and other events through the Internet. In addition, individual states are beginning to enact additional forms of Internet betting, including daily fantasy sports.
In addition to federal gambling laws, each state has its own set of laws that regulate the types of activities that are permitted within its boundaries. These laws are primarily focused on sports wagering, although other forms of gambling are also regulated in the states. These regulations are usually more stringent than the federal laws. For example, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibited all states except Nevada from permitting traditional sports wagering. In January of 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the prohibition, allowing states to enact laws that allowed for the legalization of sports betting.
Before the advent of the Internet, the United States’ gambling laws were largely controlled by the Interstate Wire Act. The Act was designed to combat mafia groups running sports betting organizations across state lines. Despite this, the Department of Justice has opined that the Act applies to all forms of gambling, even digital wagering. The Fifth Circuit disagreed with the Department’s position and ruled that the Wire Act does not apply to online gaming.
In addition to the Wire Act, the United States has some other statutes that prohibit online gambling. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, for example, is a federal law that targets unregulated offshore betting sites. The UIGEA does not criminalize online gambling, but it does prohibit financial institutions from processing transactions to/from unlicensed gambling websites.
Currently, there are 48 states in the US that permit some form of gambling. The laws vary by state, however, and some states have specific age requirements for those who gamble. The majority of states only allow gambling at casinos or at establishments that are licensed by the state. Some states, such as Idaho and Wisconsin, prohibit all forms of gambling. Other states, such as Alabama and Louisiana, offer limited gambling options.
Gambling on the Internet has grown significantly over the past few years. The market is estimated to be worth $40 billion a year. Despite these massive gains, the growth is expected to slow down in the near future. Because of this, the US Justice Department has been exploring online gambling regulations. The Department opined in 2011 that the Wire Act does not apply to Internet-based games of chance, such as online poker.