Gambling is a term used to describe games of chance or skill that require a prize or prize-like item of value in order to win. Traditionally, gambling was conducted at brick and mortar casinos, but it has expanded to online and mobile versions of the games.
Internet and mobile gambling are regulated by various state laws. Online gaming is not prohibited in most US states, but some jurisdictions have stricter rules than others. In some cases, online gambling is only legal if it is done under a state license or if the operator is located in an offshore jurisdiction.
Some state legislatures have worried that internet gambling could cannibalize brick and mortar casinos. New Jersey, for example, restricts the age to 21 to gamble in its casinos. However, a recent report by Frost & Sullivan found that the online gambling industry generated $830 million in revenues in 1998.
On the federal level, the US government has long attempted to regulate gambling on Native American land. The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act governs gambling activities on the reservations. Congress has also banned the transport of lottery tickets across state lines.
Congress has also explored online gambling regulations. There are several states that allow residents to gamble on sporting events over the Internet. These are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin.
One of the most notable online gambling regulations is the Federal Information Technology Rules. These rules were developed to thwart illegal activity. A recent report by the San Francisco Chronicle found that Twitch’s popular online streaming service is becoming a gray area, as some streamers and viewers are now unsure whether or not they can legally bet.
The United States Department of Justice has taken a firm stance against online gambling. It maintains that all forms of online gambling in the country are illegal. This includes betting exchanges, and the advertising of online gambling services.
Several federal and state lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at softening the federal online gambling law. The Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act would license and tax internet gambling businesses. Additionally, the Skill Game Protection Act would clarify the Wire Act to allow certain types of online wagering. Despite its laudable efforts, the legislation has failed to pass in the Senate.
Similarly, several bills relating to Internet gambling were introduced in the House of Representatives. The Goodlatte and Kyl bills, for example, would have limited online gambling activities to horse races and only permitted gambling to occur in a handful of states.
For its part, the US Supreme Court has ruled that it is constitutional to allow states to legalize sports betting. Other states have already passed laws allowing sports betting. Although polls indicate that voters in several states favor legalized sports betting, many lawmakers still oppose it.
The Supreme Court has ruled that Internet-based gambling is not the same as gambling in the traditional sense. Gambling is a risky endeavor, and requires careful consideration.