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Is It Legal To Gamble Online?

In America the question of whether it is legal or not to gamble online is a highly poignant one. In November of 2002 the 5th circuit court of appeals deemed the Federal Wire Act to prohibit the transferal of funds for sports betting via telecommunications lines, but allowed that it did not prohibit one to gamble online on a game of chance. In the years that followed the trend started to shift away from encouraging one to gamble online. Both Google and Yahoo! Stopped advertising online gaming on their sites in 2004, and later in that year Casino City bought a case against the US government claiming that it was entirely legal to gamble online and that therefore first amendment rights were being violated. The District court for the Middle District of Louisiana thought the case out in February 2005; however, since April 2005 Yahoo! Reviewed their stance and began advertising again all be it in a restricted manner.

2005 saw the passing of a bill though the North Dakota House of Representatives allowing for the existence of online poker and card rooms if run under the regulation of the state. Whilst it passed the State House of Representatives, it did not pass the State Senate. Throughout 2006 various operators were arrested and charged for violations of the Federal Wire Act, and in September of 2006 a last minute attachment was placed onto the Safe Port Act just before breaking for recess. This amendment is what would become the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act), and when signed into law prohibited the transferal of funds from financial institutions to online gaming sites. This created a huge drop in interest in American online gaming and many companies suspended their services to American consumers.

2007 has seen the introduction of both the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, and the Skill Game Protection Act. The first would allow for the provision of internet gambling licenses under the auspices of the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, whilst the second would recategorize skill games such as poker, chess and bridge so that they wouldn’t be affected by legislation against games of chance. This is an ongoing process, but the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act has come against hard opposition and the ability to carry it out has been drawn into serious question. So, for now, it is legal in most states to gamble online.