The Game Act could modify the Internet casino scenario on behalf of the American players. It will bring back the glory days of online gambling in the USA.
Understanding the legal situation for USA online casinos players can be complex and can feel a little like being lost in a legal maze when you delve into it.
First, there are endless rumors swirling around the web about upcoming changes.
Second, there are actually multiple pieces of legislation governing the situation, which lots of people get confused.
Third, there are some states in the USA where some forms of online gambling are legal, while others are not.
All of this is a recipe for confusion and understandably so. That's why we set our researchers the task of finding out exactly what the situation is.
This article is the result of that research. By the end of it, you will have a much clearer picture of online gambling legislation in the USA as it stands and what changes may be coming down the pipe.
Where It All Began - UIGEA
Not so long ago, US players had free reign to gamble online. Poker rooms were full to the brim with American players and online casinos could accept them readily and freely. It was essentially a free for all gambling paradise, and then, suddenly, it all stopped.
The US government was concerned about the wellbeing of US players (translation, the number of US land-based casinos losing cash to offshore operators) and introduced legislation to put a stop to online gambling.
This legislation was called the UIGEA - Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
Overnight, US players were shut out of most online casinos and poker rooms with operators afraid to incur the wrath of an angry uncle Sam.
Since the legislation was introduced in 2006, US players have had a hell of a time finding online casinos which will accept them. Let's put it like this - the ones that will are less than wholesome to deal with.
The exact phrasing of the law was/is that it "prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law".
That's legal speak for no casino or sportsbook may accept payment from US players legally.
A Quick Overview of PASPA
There is another important piece of legislation in the mix, PASPA - Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (1992) - which prevents individual states from legalizing sports betting.
There are exceptions built into PASPA, namely:
This has been the subject of several legal challenges, most notably from the state of New Jersey. We'll talk a little more about that below.
Legal Challenges and The GAME Act
There was always some confusion as to whether the UIGEA extended to interstate horse racing and sports betting and this was confused further by the fact that some states have their own legislation allowing sports betting online.
In fact, the State of New Jersey issued a legal challenge to PASPA, which has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, challenging the ban on online sports betting specifically.
That whirlwind of confusion aside, Rep. Frank Pallone introduced new legislation to legalize sports betting, online poker, and casino gambling in the USA once again. This is called the GAME Act - Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement.
As well as seeking to simplify and unify the law under one act, Pallone has argued that illegal gambling is costing the USA $400bn in revenue, not including casino and poker revenue.
This has led many to believe that change is coming down the pipe. This speculation is further intensified by some hints by President Donald Trump that he is open to change.
Pallone himself admits that there is no set timeline as to when the legislation may be approved or kick in. For now, it seems, it is still somewhat of a pipe dream with the possibility of coming to fruition.
So, as it stands, internet gambling of any form is still illegal in the USA. Sports betting is legal in Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana but nowhere else despite ongoing legal challenges.
The GAME Act could change everything and bring back the glory days of US online gambling, albeit in a more regulated and sensible manner, but as of today, this looks to be a long way off.
What will the future hold? We predict the GAME Act or some form of it will eventually pass. With a Trump administration keen to repatriate as many dollars as possible to US shores, there is definitely a good chance of progress here.
We'll keep you updated as things progress. For now, though, you can expect a fierce debate and legal challenges no matter what the outcome.Last update: 30-09-2019
Regulations and Laws