Online Gambling Law in the USA
A decade ago, there was minor concern throughout the United States about online gambling. As the industry grew to more astronomical heights, the US government began to take more notice. Thus the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) was born. The purpose was to criminalize online gambling in the USA, but it received more criticism than anything else. The US Gambling Law was ridiculed as nothing more than an ‘attack on internet gambling’.
Now, more than five years after the fact, the Department of Justice has reversed its stance. Where the DOJ previously insisted that the age-old Wire Act of 1961 criminalized all forms of internet (“remote”) gambling, legislation finally confirmed in December 2011 that it applied only to race and sports betting. With this decision came the announcement that individual US states would be permitted to decide their own laws in regards to acceptance or declination of online gambling.
With that said, Delaware became the first state to legalize intrastate online gambling. The scale was highly diverse, allowing for poker and most casino games (baccarat, blackjack, twenty-one, poker, craps, roulette, bingo, wheel of fortune or any variation of these games); everything but keno and lotteries.
Nevada – the home of America’s casino gambling mecca, Las Vegas – immediately began writing up the necessary documents to legalize internet gambling, but a chose a more restrictive path to only legalize online poker. The Nevada Gaming Control Board has since accepted a multitude of license applications from operators, software manufacturers, payment distributors and other relevant companies, many of which have been granted.
New Jersey is expected to pass similar legislation in the very near future, while several other states are still contemplating the matter.
The intricacies of each state’s passed, or proposed, online gambling laws vary, but there are some minutiae that do not waver. The most common guideline requires that only gaming establishments located within and licensed for land-based operation by the state will be permitted to apply for licenses to operate within in the state’s online gambling industry. This leaves the majority of offshore gambling operators unable to take advantage of legal online gambling in the USA.
Another fact that most states seem to agree on is that the need for interstate online gambling is imperative. Just as Las Vegas would not survive if only Nevada residents were permitted to gamble at its myriad brick-and-mortar casinos, state officials are positive that online gambling in Nevada will only succeed if permitted on an interstate level.
With that in mind, and the looming passage of an online gambling law in New Jersey, Nevada immediately scrambled to ink a bill that would allow for intrastate gambling. It took only a couple of weeks for Nevada lawmakers to pen Bill AB114, an emergency measure to legalize interstate online gambling that would allow Nevada players to participate at US online gaming sites outside of The Silver State. The bill was introduced on February 13, 2013. On February 21, it passed with a unanimous vote in the Assembly and the Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Sandoval, all on the same day.
With Nevada poised to launch online gambling on an interstate level, without the need of federal legislation to back it up, all that is needed now is for other states to follow suit.