Is Online Gambling Legal in America

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When internet gambling was first challenged by Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona in 1997, the industry was already pulling in 300 million dollars a year, and that was with only 32 websites.  By 2000 this had increased to a total intake of 2.2 billion dollars with 1400 casinos online.  Now there are well over 1800 casinos and that number continues to grow.

Not only are they a huge money earner through people gambling, but they bring revenue to people who have them advertised on their websites, which a lot of business do to help stay afloat.  Online gambling sites are the fifth largest online advertiser, earning approximately 2.5 billion for those sites that let them advertise on their pages.  Quite a lot of money and hard for a struggling business to pass up or any business really.

Since there is a question of legality in the United States a lot of these online gambling sites have offshore businesses.  In a report they found that 60% of offshore gambling money comes from American gamblers.  The Justice Department considers online gambling illegal for Americans.  This is stated due to the ’61 wire wager act, it states that placing bets over the phone line is illegal, thus internet gambling is also illegal.

In fact Jay Cohen who started the World Sports Exchange was charged in 1998 under the 1961 Wire Act.  They really couldn’t be touched though by the US government they had set up their business in Antigua.

This seems to be the popular way for most gambling sites to be set up, thus avoiding persecution under United States laws.  Cohen was found guilty, and appealed, but lost again; he then found out that the Supreme Court had refused to review his case.  Cohen received 21 months in a federal prison, plus a fine of $5,000.  His partners are still in Antigua running the business, which deals with approximately 30,000 people.

It seems like so many things that are questioned about legality, that gambling should perhaps be looked at again.  I mean there are people who want to legalize certain drugs, how much worse is that for you then gambling?  It’s not a big deal if you want to bet your money on something.  Isn’t that what freedom of choice is?  Sometimes you have to wonder how much control the government has over things we do, and why they are trying to control so darn much?

Of course there are people who try and take advantage of this rule too; in fact two individuals sued their credit card companies, stating that they had huge debts from casino online gambling sites.

They didn’t win their fight, but still isn’t it sad that people need to try and get out of something they had done, they tried to turn the Wire Act bill around by saying that since the gambling they had done was illegal, they shouldn’t have to pay their debts.  With this ruling though against the two people the courts did say that the Wire Act only applied to bets on contests or sporting events.

So with this new ruling it makes the online gambling rules even more convoluted and confusing.  So do we really know if it’s illegal to gambling online?  Well Congress is always fighting to make it illegal, for now though play what you want, just don’t place bets on sports or contests.

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