There’s no U.S. federal law against Gaming online

There’s no U.S. federal law against gaming online. At the national level, gambling on the internet is perfectly legal, because of the absence of a law against it. It’s likely to run afoul of state law (notably in extremely conservative countries ), but even there prosecution is extremely uncommon, and penalties are often slight.
U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway confessed in a House hearing that just placing wagers online doesn’t violate federal law. No American has ever been arrested, indicted, or prosecuted by the feds for gambling online, because there’s no law against it. If online gambling were illegal I would not be running his website for nineteen decades, as an American citizen, residing in the U.S., using my actual name. And I sometimes gamble on the internet, too, and I acknowledge that publicly, like I’m doing right now.
This might be confusing because other outlets erroneously noted that Congress banned online gambling in 2006. Those reports are simply erroneous. The 2006 law makes it illegal for banks to maneuver betting money when the bets are already illegal (including from a country law), but doesn’t ensure it is illegal for gamers to make stakes. The law just does not create or extend any ban on gambling itself. In fact, the legislation states quite clearly,”No provision of this subchapter shall be construed as altering, limiting, or expanding any Federal or State law or Tribal-State compact banning, permitting, or regulating gaming within the United States.” You can see for yourself by checking out the full text of the law.
Despite the fact that you do not break any national laws from putting bets online, it is not legal to run a gambling operation (i.e., to accept bets), except in those few countries where it’s explicitly legal and the operator is accredited. Therefore don’t think you can start an internet casino or run Facebook raffles.
And yes, the FBI published a frightening warning online where they claimed that placing bets on the internet is against the law. In summary, they whined, and the DoJ eventually reversed that position anyway. (more on that)
States where online gambling is explicitly legal
Not many states have specific laws against online gambling, though many have laws against gaming in general, which apply equally to offline and online gambling. A small handful of countries have explicitly legalized online gaming, provided that you perform at one of the couple of approved online casinos. In some countries, only certain kinds of gaming might be lawful (e.g., poker). The states which have legalized at least some form of online gambling are:
Delaware became the first state to legalize online gambling, in June 2012, and the third to start (Nov. 26, 2013). (USA Today, Delaware Online, Casino.org)
Nevada became the first nation to legalize online gaming (well, poker ), on Feb. 21, 2013 (CBS) and launching on April 30. (LVRJ)
New Jersey became the third country to legalize online gaming (poker + casino), signed into law in February 2013, and launching on Nov. 25th. (NJ Poker Online)
Note that Bovada will not accept players from such countries, nor will they take players from Maryland or New York.
The District of Colmbia became the first jurisdiction to legalize online gambling in the U.S., in April 2011. However, the measure was repealed in February 2012 until it became active. (NY Times)
State violations of gaming are usually misdemeanors
Even when countries do not permit players to gamble, the penalties are almost always mild. The only states where simple gambling is a felony would be the two Washingtons: Washington, DC, and Washington state. (source) In many nations easy gambling is merely a misdemeanor, and in Arkansas and Colorado it’s a simple petty crime, like a traffic ticket. (origin )
States with an Internet gambling prohibition
Even countries that prohibit gambling generally usually don’t have a specific ban on online gaming. When it’s against the law to bet in your nation, that applies offline and online, even if the law doesn’t mention online. However, a few countries do specifically outlaw online gambling. Those countries are:
Illinois
Indiana
Louisiana
Montana
Nevada (go figure)
Oregon
South Dakota
Washington
Wisconsin
Source: Gambling Law U.S.
Players convicted of breaking State laws I know of only two cases where a player ran afoul of state laws (in extremely conservative nations ), both of whom were charged under their nation’s overall anti-gambling legislation, not any special anti-online-gambling law:
North Dakota. Jeffrey Trauman paid a $500 fine on what was probably over $100,000 in online sports bet winnings, in 2003. (Betting & the Law)
Oklahoma. Online sports bettor Roland Benavides was billed in 2011 and in 2012 received a deferred sentence (meaning that when he does not violate the terms of his probation, he will probably face no jail time). (News OK)
Kentucky seized domains A Kentucky judge agreed to allow Kentucky capture 141 gambling-related domains, on the spurious grounds that a domain name comprised a”gambling device” under regulations. But even if it had been clear that gambling domains violated Kentucky law, the seizure was still absurd, due to that logic any country could seize any domain anywhere in the world when the site happened to violate its own local law. In any case, as FlushDraw stated,”Just a small number of US-based registrars complied, and the seizures themselves were rendered somewhat moot when most of the affected domains jumped to non-US registrar services and stopped using”.com” domains.”
The Kentucky Court of Appeals quickly overturned the seizure action, but the State appealed. I could not find any updates between 2014-2018 (EFF 2008, KY appealed in 2009, 2014 ruling)
Taking bets is illegal It has always been contrary to federal law to carry sports bets over the Internet (not to create them). In other words, you can not establish a website and take sports bets out of the public. The legislation that prohibits that is called the Wire Act. For many years the feds stated that the Wire Act applied to accepting poker and casino bets also. Then in 2011 they reversed themselves and stated the Wire Act applied only to athletics. (Forbes) Then in 2019 they reversed themselves again and returned to the former position that the Wire Act actually applies to accepting poker and casino stakes too. (source) Though again, putting bets remains perfectly legal under national law. The challenge would be finding a respectable place to play. Because of the legal issues, there aren’t many operators serving the whole U.S., and many of those that are kind of questionable. That’s why I advertise only Bovada on this site, because they’re the best one for U.S. players.
States can currently offer sports betting In May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a law that illegal sports betting in all countries but Nevada. This allows individual countries to legalize sports betting should they choose to do so. On the other hand, the court’s ruling does not talk to the Wire Act, therefore online sportsbooks still violate federal law (for the operator, not the player). (Forbes)

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