Posted February 26, 2014 by John Baintree in News

Understanding US Gambling Laws?

Understanding US Gambling Laws
Understanding US Gambling Laws

If you are expecting to be able to walk away from this little and summarise US gambling law into a simple phrase or sentence then think again. The problems with understanding gambling law in the US start with the fact that the US is a federal form of government, then move onto a complex historic perspective, blended with some significant social issues and finally add more than a little influence from technology to arrive at very complicated landscape that I just waiting to trap you with a law suit. What follows is a brief consideration of this landscape that might help you decide if you want a gambling holiday and if you do, what type of gambling will it be.

Federal and State Governments

Gambling is permitted un the United States under federal law but the law provides for each state to regulate its own gambling activities. It lotteries are included in the definition of gambling then every state permits gaming of some form.

The Goldrush, Reconstruction, Prohibition and 1930 onwards

The Goldrush saw California, and San Francisco in particular develop a significant gambling industry which was increasingly managed by the state causing the industry to go underground. During the Reconstruction period in the South, gambling was also more closely regulated, again forcing the industry underground. During Prohibition, gambling was closely aligned with drinking so was legislated closely, once again forcing the industry undergrounds and into the hands of mobsters that led to the prevalence of cities such as Las Vegas as gambling resorts.

So Called Indian Gaming

This is where the historic and social perspective comes into play. Historically, many Indian reservations were defined as sovereign territories, where much federal law did not apply. Add to that a taste for gambling amongst many native American Indians and following a series of U.S. Supreme court rulings that determined how state law could (and more importantly – could not) be applied to Indian reservations, the landscape was right for legal gambling to be established.

Three types of gaming were defined under a 1988 California state law that supported gaming in reservations. Class 1 gaming was traditional Indian gambling, often seen in Indian ceremonies, Class II gaming defined games of chance such as bingo and certain non-bank card games. Class III gaming was the rest and so includes slot machines, blackjack, craps and roulette.

The environment was then created for gaming to become established inside and outside of reservations across the country.

Technology today

Gambling in the United States today seems to be evolving once again, painfully, as legislation controlling the latest forms of the industry starts by prohibiting and then by gradually developing as legal clarity is achieved. Today, online gambling appear to be the latest battle ground and online poker in particular. In 20913, fully regulated online poker is now permitted in three states, New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware despite the fact that online poker is played across state boundaries throughout the whole United States.