Gambling and the Law: A run down of changing legislation as it pertains to landbased and online gambling in the USA.
The legality of gambling is a central topic of interest for many casino fans residing in the United States, which is not surprising considering the legal climate pertaining to gambling in this country is overly complex.
The complexity stems from the fact gambling legislation is different on a state level, with each state being able to enforce its own laws regarding which betting activities (if any) are allowed on its territory. I shall now attempt to shed some light on the current gambling legislation on US soil and hopefully dispel your confusion.
Landbased Gambling Laws in the USA
According to supercasinosites.com landbased gambling is fully legal under federal law, with each state having the right to enforce its individual regulations or prohibit certain forms of betting activities within its borders. Such is the case with the states of Utah and Hawaii where all gambling activities are fully outlawed.
Casino-style gambling activities have been legalized statewide across the states of Louisiana and Nevada. Meanwhile, some states like New Jersey and Mississippi have restricted casino gambling to limited geographical areas only like Atlantic City and Tunica. In some states, casino gambling is allowed exclusively on riverboats or barges traveling across big rivers like the Missouri and the Mississippi.
Commercial vs. Indian Casinos – What’s the Difference
Citizens of the United States can gamble legally either in a commercial or an Indian casino but what exactly is the difference between these two establishments? It is state lawmakers and voters that approve commercial casinos and determine where they should be located. Such casinos are strictly regulated by their local legislature and can operate legally only under a valid license issued by the respective state.
In some states, legislators would impose restrictions on the types of casino games offered in gambling venues. Some commercial casinos are located on the above-mentioned barges or riverboats while others can be built only in tourist areas, like New Jersey’s Atlantic City, for instance.
The year 1979 was a turning point in the US gambling history as it saw the Seminole Indian tribe sue the state of Florida for the right to operate a bingo hall on the sovereign territory of its reservation. The Seminoles prevailed in court and soon other Indian tribes like the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans in Connecticut followed in their footsteps. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enforced in 1988 to provide a statutory footing for the regulation of all reservation gaming activities in the US.
The Seminoles’ court victory led to the emergence of what are dubbed “Indian casinos”, with Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun being some of the most popular Native-American establishments of this type. Unlike commercial casinos, Indian casinos are not regulated by the state. The National Indian Gaming Commission is responsible for overlooking their operations and consolidating the integrity of the Indian gambling industry.
But What’s the Legal Status of Online Gambling?
The situation with the legal status of online gambling in the USA is even more complex. After the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in 2006, many US citizens were quick to assume this piece of legislation outlawed all forms of interactive gambling but this is not necessarily the case. One of the provisions of this piece of legislation clearly states that individual persons or entities are not allowed to accept the money of online bettors from the United States.
In other words, off-shore online casinos are prohibited from accepting money from players based in this jurisdiction but players themselves are not persecuted for participating in online betting activities because there are no provisions in the UIGEA that tackle the persecution of persons who gamble online.
This is not to say US players have no options when it comes to online gambling. On the contrary, a good number of online casinos based outside the scope of the US jurisdiction are happy to accept the action of US players. Such casinos would normally operate under the licensing of jurisdictions like Curacao, Costa Rica or Panama.
Thankfully, the past couple of years saw various favorable changes in the US online gambling legislation. Players from the states of Delaware, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey can legally participate in some forms of licensed online gambling.
Following the ruling of the Supreme Court in favor of New Jersey this May, each US state now has the right to pass its individual legislation in regard to the legality of sports betting. Many players are hopeful this would pave the way for legalizing online casino gambling in more states in the future. Until then, I recommend you pick the off-shore online casinos you gamble at carefully to ensure they are reliable and keep your fingers crossed for more favorable legislative changes in the US online gambling landscape.