Is Online Gambling Breaking the Law?

Legality of online gambling has always been a fiercely debated topic. On one hand, you have countries like the UK and some other European nations where online gambling is legal, and on the other hand, you have the US and other countries where there is a big question mark regarding its legality. Then, there are a few other countries, which are completely neutral on the topic and the laws simply don't address it.

April 15th 2011, will always be remembered as Black Friday by poker fans in the US. This was the day when the US authorities seized the domains of PokerStars, Absolute Poker and FullTilt Poker - three of the biggest names in the world of online gambling. This event single handedly affected the landscape of online poker and even the rest of the online gambling industry.

Online gambling and the US

Land based casinos have enjoyed a lot of success in the US, but the same cannot be said for online casinos. When the UIGEA was passed, a lot of big companies left the US market altogether, the main example being Party Gaming. This led to widespread belief that online gambling was illegal. However, this is not the case. The law never defines what unlawful internet gambling is, and it only says that financial institutions are restricted from approving any transactions related to online gambling.

Action was taken against the above mentioned sites because they were pretending to be suppliers for some other goods and masking their online gambling transactions. Keep in mind that a player is still allowed to make bets on online casinos.

The UIGEA is not the only act that deals with the legality of online gambling. The Wire Act that was passed in 1961 also deals with this issue. The law basically says that it is illegal to bet or wager on any sporting even using a wire facility, that is, a telephone line. Even though this law is more than four decades old, it was still used as a base by the Department of Justice for sending a letter to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Wire Act is applicable only to sports betting. It is clear that it refers only to betting through telephones as the internet was not even invented in 1961.Also, the law is directed towards bets on sporting events, where the success is solely dependent on luck. Most of the gambling games like poker and blackjack involve player skill.

Legality of online casinos outside the US

The legal status of online gambling is quite clear in the US for the time being but the situation is quite complicated when you look at some other countries. Some of these countries support online gambling, others are completely against it, and there are some that have no stance on the matter. The UK Gambling Act of 2005 made the UK the first country in Europe to have gambling laws and a regulatory body. While players from other countries like France and Germany still find it difficult to play in online casinos, the situation is bound to improve in the coming years.

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