If you live in Europe and in countries such as Canada and Australia, and even large parts of Asia and South America, then the answer posed in the headline of this article is a simple one and it is usually a resounding yes. These countries have a long history of gambling and one that would surprise many people living in the United States. In the United kingdom, for instance, when you turn 16 you are allowed to buy a lottery ticket and you are allowed to enter a bookmakers and place a bet on horse racing, soccer or any other game of your choosing. You have to be 18, however, if you want to enter a casino and you also have to be 18 to play on many online casinos, but the laws there are generally very relaxed and the same applies to countries across Europe.
If you live in the United States then that’s where the problems start. Gambling has always been a big issue in the US and there are many reasons why this is the case. One of the main reasons may have something to do with Christianity and the fact that this religion is so ingrained in the American culture (as opposed the the UK where the vast majority do not identify with any religious group). Christianity preaches family values and also looks down on gambling, considering it hedonistic and saying that it leads to other problems. This is arguable, but it certainly had a place in making the Wild West so wild, and in building the gangland empires of the 1920s and 1930s, which is perhaps another reason why it gets such a bad rep.
It seems that when gambling is legalized in the US, it dominates the city. You only need to look at Reno, Vegas and Atlantic City to see that, and even Florida is becoming a mecca for gambling in recent years, and that in turn creates more problems and more opposition. But you can’t ignore the sheer amount of money that gambling can bring in for the government and again, you only need to look at Vegas to see that — this city is one of the richest in the world and it was built on the money that millions of punters gambled away.
It seems rational to suggest that if you could take the gambling out of the towns and the cites, therefore taking away the drunken behavior and the prostitution — as hookers seem to be drawn to casinos where drunken men are throwing their money away — the government would be fine with it. But that’s exactly what online gambling did and they are far from fine with it. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act came into play in 2006 and, to quote from the law itself, it stops, “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”
This was the law that the government cited during Black Friday, when they indicted Pokerstars, Full-Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker in a day that poker fans everywhere will never forget. This law not only stops you from playing poker, but it also puts a stop to any casino, sports book and slot machine action. That is why you will not find an online casino operating in the US but, as you may have noticed, the law doesn’t mention anything about the person who is placing the bet, because according to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the gambler is not breaking any law.
So, if a casino operates outside of the US and accepts players from inside US jurisdiction, neither are breaking the law. A lot of the big sports books and online casinos refuse to do this as it is very much a touchy subject and not one they want to get involved with, but there are plenty of online casinos opening up that cater solely for US customers. There’s nothing wrong with a US citizen gambling some of his hard-earned paycheck at one of these online casinos and the US government won’t do anything to stop him, but they will go out of their way to make it as difficult as possible. Rather than closing the casinos, they choose to target the banks and the payment providers, knowing that if you can’t deposit and you can’t withdraw, then you won’t be able to gamble. That is why many of these casinos operate in wire transfers and prepayment cards.
So basically, if you are based in the US and are worried that you are breaking the law, don’t be. If anyone should be worried it’s the online casinos, as another Black Friday, one targeted at online casino industry, could be just around the corner, but this is unlikely to effect the players. If you are based outside of the US then you really have nothing to worry about, gambling is legal in more countries than it is not, and those in Europe enjoy way more freedom than those in the US on this issue.