Since the end of the year is coming, I thought it would be appropriate to post about the state of online casino gambling in the United States in 2012. Most gambling news writers pay more attention to what’s going on in the world of Internet poker and Web-based sports betting, because that’s where most of the juicy headlines are. I don’t recall reading about anyone getting arrested for running a site about online casino games, but I’ve sure seen a lot of discussion of lawsuits targeting Internet poker operators and sportsbooks over the last couple of years.
Most of the major casino software companies don’t allow real money play from the United States at all anymore. Microgaming, Cryptologic, and Playtech all have blanket restrictions against allowing players from the U.S. to wager money on their casino games. Realtime Gaming has no such restriction on its casinos, but even some of the individual casinos powered by their software prohibit U.S. players.
If you’re in the United States, you should be aware that no federal law prohibits online casino gaming. The DOJ used to cite the Federal Wire Act as the applicable federal law, but that particular law applies only to sports wagers. The DOJ has even backtracked a little bit about that. Also, the much-touted UIGEA law didn’t make casino games on the Internet illegal; it only made it illegal to transfer funds for illegal gambling purposes.
What does all that mean?
It means that if you live in one of the many states where gambling on the Internet is illegal, then you would be better served by skipping the online slot machines.
On the other hand, law enforcement tends to focus its enforcement activities on the operators of these businesses–not their customers. Our advice is to find out what the laws are in your area, get legal advice from a professional attorney, and then obey the law. You can find lists of online casinos accepting U.S. players easily enough, but make sure that you understand and obey your local laws before acting on any information you find on the Internet.
Will online casino gambling be legalized in 2013? Since there are no federal laws prohibiting, I’d be surprised if they passed any laws explicitly allowing it. Will individual states change their laws about Internet casino games? Possibly, but it varies according to the state. Some states are positively draconian about these sorts of issues, while others are a lot more laid back. Time will tell.
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