Generally, gambling activities in the USA are restricted. This does however not mean that there is no from of gambling. The nation’s federal law permits different types of gambling including bingo games and lotteries amongst others. These are mostly for raising money for worthy causes. According to the American Gaming Association, the legal gambling activities raised slightly over $92 billion. Under federal law, each of the states is obligated to regulate the industry.
What is illegal under US federal law is online gambling. Even so, more US citizens are indulging in online gambling activities. This is despite the fact that the online gambling industry is unregulated with non-existent consumer protection. This has forced millions of Americans to register with offshore casinos that accept their bets. The US online gambling market is currently estimated to be worth about $6 billion.
The illegality of online gambling in the US is based on two legislations; the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the Wire Act that came into force in 1961. Signed into law by former president George Bush, UIGEA Act bans the use of credit/debit cards and other financial avenues including banking transfers for settling online gambling transactions.
Although these legislations are in place, there is great hope by online gambling enthusiasts in the US that the illegality will soon be lifted. This hope is inched on the fact that the American Gambling Association (AGA) has been advocating for the lifting of the ban on online gambling since mid 1990s, a move that has made it possible for limited online gambling activities to be legalized. The argument by AGA that there is adequate technology to prevent money laundering activities by unscrupulous individuals and underage gambling has seen such forms of gambling as online interstate lottery gambling categorized as legal. AGA also points out that even though there are legislations banning online gambling activities, the same are not sufficient to protect gamblers.
AGA believes that online gambling in the US should be legalized and a regulated legal framework put in place to protect the interest of US citizens who are already gambling online. AGA is now advocating for licensing of all online gambling operators within the US. It is also advocating for revision of the UIGEA Act to remove any ambiguities that have already been noted.
It is no secret that AGA’s strong campaign for legalization of online gambling in the US has not been in vain. The number of bills that have already been brought up in Congress for debate is a clear illustration of the fact that millions of Americans want to indulge in online gambling in a safe and secure environment. The bills include the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2011, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2011 and the Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011. When passed and signed into law, these pieces of legislations will not only serve to assure American citizens of safety while gambling online but also open the doors for millions of others to enter the industry.