Online Gambling in the US in Danger

Online gambling in all its forms in the United States was banned at a federal level by a law we can consider ancient today: the Wire Act of 1961. The law states the following:

Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

The act was suspended in 2011, and online gambling regulation was left in the hands of every state’s legislature, leaving them the freedom to either prohibit, or regulate online gambling. Several states have seized the opportunity to allow this lucrative business, issuing state-wide online gambling licenses and generating text revenues for their states. The states – New Jersey and Nevada among others – have decided to regulate online gambling in all its forms. The fate of the American online gambling industry is in danger again, though, as a new legal initiative – the Restoration of the American Wire Act – is being in discussion by the federal government, backed by the gambling billionaire, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands corporation, Sheldon Adelson.

The Restoration of the American Wire Act would do exactly as its name suggests: restore the American Wire Act, with a few amendments – basically a re-imagining of the 1961 law, adopted to our times. Basically, the law would override the states’ rights to allow or ban online gambling as they please, criminalizing all online gambling activities with the exception of horse racing.

Luckily the law has a series of major opponents. Given its impact on the state lotteries – banning the online expansion of these would have a serious economic effect on their profits. It would eliminate instant lottery ticket vending machines, it would effectively ban online self service lottery ticket sales, and it would also seriously reduce the reach of video lottery terminals. Overall, the restoration of the act suspended in 2011 by the Department of Justice would limit the growth and development of state-wide lotteries across the country.

Besides all the above, the new/old act would limit the variety of games available to American gamblers to those available in land-based casinos. With offshore operators being denied access to the US market, players lose access to hundreds of high quality games – has over 500 of the best microgaming casino games, which, given the US laws, are unavailable for American players – leaving them with lesser quality alternatives for playing and sometimes less than serious, unregulated operators to risk their money at.

2 Responses to Online Gambling in the US in Danger
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