How does gambling legislation affect you in the States, around the world

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The gambling industry is a global industry making hundreds of billions of dollars a year. The online gaming and casino industry is also growing phenomenally and 2020 was no different. However this doesn’t mean it is always safe or legal to gamble online or in a brick and mortar establishment.

You may be wondering if it is ok to gamble in your state or perhaps you are living overseas or taking a holiday and want to stay on the right side of the law.

Legislation changes all the time so for up to date information you should check out your local gambling commission and laws but here is a brief guide to gambling around the world.

History of gambling

Humans have been gambling from the dawn of time. There is evidence from Mesopotamia of six sided dice that date back 3,000 years. In China playing cards arrived around the 9th century and poker was derived from a Persian game dating back to the 17th century. The first known casino, the Ridotto was opened in 1638 in Venice, Italy. It was originally just a side room in a theatre but still stands today as the Casino de Venezia.

Through the centuries gambling has been outlawed and legalized countless times. It was banned in Nevada then legalized again in 1931 which opened the doors to the gambling mecca that we know today. It was banned in 1909 because by being the only state in the US to legalize gambling it was seen as making a mockery of the rest of the country.

Gambing in the states

Gambling is a $240 billion dollar industry in just the states alone according to The American Gaming Association. It employs 1.7 million people across 40 states. State and tax revenues were nearly $9 billion 2016. It wasn’t until 1940 that the US got its first major casino although The Golden Gate Casino in Vegas precedes this. There was plenty of gambling going on before this; it just wasn’t necessarily legal. There are different laws for online gambling, casinos and sports betting.

Despite the huge revenues involved not all states allow gambling in all its forms. For instance Hawaii bans all types of gambling and Alaska allows only charitable types of gambling. Legislation changes all the time but you can find some information on state gambling laws online.

There are some ways around strict legislation however. Online gambling is restricted by most states but that doesn’t mean Americans are not playing. Companies can use offshore bases to run their casinos.

Licenses for gaming

Licenses for online casinos can vary wildly depending on where their servers are based and the gambling tax will also differ from state to state and other countries. Many gambling websites get past restrictions and reduce outgoings by registering the company offshore. For instance a license for a casino online in Delaware would cost $50,000 and pay high gaming taxes but if the company is registered in Gibraltar they would get significant tax breaks although a license would still be needed.

What the company does gain though is new markets.

Offshore gambling

This is simply when a company registers itself abroad and physically bases their servers in that country. Malta and Gibraltar are two popular regions used by online casinos. There are advantages here for getting around local regulations. For example in Texas and most American states it is illegal for online casinos to operate. However this only counts for companies physically operating out of that state. Even though it is still illegal for a player to play online it is highly unlikely that an arrest would ever happen for an individual player and the company cannot be closed down because they are based elsewhere.

Countries where gambling is forbidden or partly outlawed

It is not just the states that have some strict gambling laws. Anyone emigrating, working abroad for some time or even just holidaying should be aware of local laws if they are intending to gamble.

For instance you may be from the UK and have an online account for the government lottery. While on holiday you decide to login and purchase your lottery ticket from abroad. No problem right? Actually by purchasing a lottery ticket from one country while in another that runs its own state lottery could be breaking local law. Camelot have made clear they will not recognize any lottery purchases made while overseas.

Other countries that have strict gambling laws include many in South East Asia such as Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos. To get around this there are casinos based in border towns so neighboring countries can visit. In this case there is no problem with a foreigner gambling it is only illegal if it is a local person. Some games are not legal though. If you are caught playing cards in Laos or Thailand then there are tough fines and even prison sentences.

Changes to payment methods

Legislation is constantly changing and some payment methods are being introduced and removed depending on which region you live in. If for instance you were in England and wanted to play in an online casino you could choose from a variety of payment methods but you would be unable to use Paypal, Skrill or any credit cards.

Bitcoin casinos

Bitcoin casinos are becoming more popular and convenient if you are wanting to use cryptocurrency for the benefits it can bring. Bitcoins offer a safe, anonymous way to pay and there is no third party processing any of your details. However bitcoin casinos are able to flout regulations as it is not recognized as a currency therefore local laws do not recognize it as gambling. If you are using a bitcoin casino look for a well established and regulated casino. Look for reviews and recommendations so you know your money is safe.

While new markets are emerging all the time and legislation is constantly evolving it is still a good idea to check the law before you go onto an online casino or gambling site.


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