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It’s quite unfortunate that once you bring up the subject of online casino gambling, people automatically ask the question if it’s legal. Every jurisdiction has its own gambling laws, which are different. We will give you a brief background on the gambling laws and a general overview of the current legal situation from around the world.
We will divide this topic into two sections: EU gambling law and U.S. gambling law. The laws for online gambling can be unclear, especially in the U.S. and now increasingly for the EU. It’s important for all players, to be aware of the legal foundations of internet gambling.
Why separate the two sections? In the EU, European Union officials have taken a pro-online gambling position (even though some individual member states have attempted to legislate on the activity), while the U.S. has taken an anti-online gambling position. Until recently, gambling online was considered to be a legal gray area (especially in the U.S.). Now, anti-gambling U.S. legislation… especially the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006… has changed that.
Please note, that this section should not be treated as legal advice. However, we do hope that you will find it quite useful.
EU Online Casinos Legislation
EU online casino gambling laws are undefined… with a lot of judicial fighting. Legally, some EU states have to accept services /goods from other EU states. But the European Court of Justice stated that gambling is a matter for the EU states to control. What this means is that an EU member country has full legal power over whether online gambling is legal or not. What’s more… the Court of Justice has also stated that gamblers (you and me) have the consumer protection rights, which means that it recognizes the legality of online gambling.
The majority of EU states do accept online gambling. Online casino businesses are taxed and regulated in EU states. Recently, countries like Norway, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, France and Austria have all seen a sharp increase in online casinos. In Eastern Europe, better internet access has led to a sharp increase in online gambling as well.
Most European states have control over internet gambling and this is because of licensing. Online casinos are legal in Netherlands, but the Dutch Gaming Act doesn’t allow its nationals to partake in internet casino games that are operated by a company which does not have a Dutch license. In the United Kingdom, legislation not only allows for online gambling, but it supports foreign operators’ to come to the UK as well. There is a huge advantage to this… the state is able to regulate gambling effectively, which enables the British authorities to tackle issues of fraud.
To sum it all up, online casinos are legal in Europe, except in a few countries. There have been several worrying developments in a number of EU member states, like Italy, that have brought out anti-online gambling legislation. But, as mentioned before, the EU has taken a pretty clear stance on this and the legality of any proposals to ban or restrict online gambling in individual member states is sure to be challenged at a higher level.
U.S. Online Casinos Legislation
U.S. legislation on online gambling has also been very unclear. The main thing to remember is that no federal law exists that prevents U.S. citizens from engaging in online gambling or any related activity. Even after the UIGEA, this remains true.
Laws on internet gambling in different States can affect those who play in those States. Legislators have attempted to prohibit the activity altogether at the federal level, e.g. the Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (H.R. 4411). Currently these states outlaw online gambling: Nevada, Louisiana, Michigan and Illinois. The states of California, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Utah have legalized certain forms of gambling.
There are states, like Nevada, that prohibit internet gambling so that they can protect the land-based casinos that are in their states. Why? Internet casino sites don’t need to be in the US to operate, so there is no way for the state and government to tax them. The main point to this… they want to keep the money in the US.
So why has there been a change of thought in the US? The gambling industry is growing even during these tough economical times…. It’s all about the bucks!