When discussing the idea of whether gambling and an online casino is legal, it is something that is not so clear. In fact, in the opinion of many in the legal profession, it depends on what perspective you're looking at it from. Law enforcement likes to point out that because of the existence of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, it is illegal for customers to play in an online casino, because invariably a financial institution must be involved in the transaction that opens up an account the first place.
There is also the question of the jurisdiction as well. Those who advocate for online gambling bring up the opinion that the activity is actually taking place offshore, because that is where the money is received and where the games are served from. And because of the fact that those casinos are licensed and regulated by a jurisdictional body, often in the locale where the servers reside, that the activity itself is taking place offshore.
Generally speaking, there are going to be some online gaming activities that are frowned upon more by the US government than others. Certainly sports betting is something that is a target, although there are operations that accept American players. Poker is always a hot topic, as even with a powerful advocacy organization like the Poker Players Alliance, the issue has gone back and forth. Casino games seem to have caught the least amount of heat. So if that is what you restrict yourself to, you should be in good shape.
Certainly the UIGEA is part of the history of online gambling in the US, but new chapters are being written. In New Jersey, for example, online gambling has been legalized, at least for people who are situated within the state's borders. Other states are following suit. The way that land-based casino gambling was seen as a revenue "cash cow" years ago, in order to bring new money into the state coffers, online gambling is being seen by some state governments is a viable way to bring in more cash.
The effect on the "establishment" online casino industry, over the long haul, if Internet gaming does become widespread as a legalized activity, is unknown. But certainly the way it looks is that only existing licensees within any particular state will have a license for the "legal" online gambling, with some openings for those veteran outfits who know how to run it stepping in, but certainly subject to state regulation.
So as you can imagine, if eventually the majority of states have the majority of online gambling activities legalized and "sanitized," if you will, the effect is going to be one that shots those offshore-based operators out. That will reduce choices for the United States consumer, opening up questions as to whether it will be a good thing in the long-term.
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