As online gambling has expanded globally, it has provided an escape route from prohibition and government control. All that was needed to place bets was accessing the world wide web from any computer worldwide and placing bets was easy and accessible from virtually any place on earth. As this form of gaming becomes increasingly popular worldwide, its success has prompted US Congress to explore whether existing laws apply and whether any additional steps must be taken in order to regulate it effectively.
As time has gone on, individual states have taken varying approaches to online gambling. Some have banned it altogether while most states have legalized some form of it and in some cases even regulated it similar to traditional casinos; others simply leave it up to individuals themselves to decide if they wish to gamble or not.
Federal law remains more stringent. For instance, the Wire Act makes it illegal to transmit information destined to be used in connection with betting on sporting events and contests through “wire communication facilities”, such as the Internet. This would appear to cover many forms of online gambling activities including eSports contests and trivia games as well as skill games, penny auctions and social media games that offer in-game prizes.
Even with these restrictions in place, online gambling remains legal depending on a number of factors. First and foremost, anyone placing bets must be 18 or over and possess sufficient financial capacity. Anyone found engaging in illegal online gambling could face serious legal repercussions including fines or jail time.
State and local laws generally have more lenient online gambling restrictions, yet still vary greatly from one another. Some states have passed laws permitting only licensed casinos to operate online while others prohibit all forms of online gambling altogether. It should also be noted that many states offer lower minimum age gambling than 21.
After years of failed efforts at passing uniform federal legislation, the united states now consists of an array of state-specific regulations regarding online gambling. As of early 2022, New jersey, Delaware, Nevada and Pennsylvania offer legal casino gaming while West Virginia and Michigan have launched sports betting sites.
Multiple lawmakers have proposed bills to modify current federal gambling law and make legal online casino sites easier for us residents to access legally regulated casino sites. Other proposals, like the Skill Game Protection Act and Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act would clarify Wire Act to exclude games of skill from its purview.