A recent article on
online casinos and the rapidly growing yet controversial online
casinos industry had many answers about online casinos.
The article stated about online casinos that despite the recent
high-profile indictments of the founder and CEO of one of the
top online casinos in the world, it does not appear that online
gamblers in most U.S. states have any reason to fear prosecution
for playing at online casinos— at least not by the federal
The exception is Washington State, where gamblers could be
charged with a felony under recently passed legislation for
playing at online casinos.
The state's gambling commission has promised not to start an
active campaign against regular players at online casinos.
However, if any online casinos records are seized, players whose
names appear in the online casinos records likely will be sent a
But when it comes to federal criminal charges, individual users
of online casinos have not been targeted for several reasons,
including questions over whether or not they are even breaking
the law, according to Gary Kashar, a partner in the New York
office of the law firm White & Case who has clients in the
"The Wire Act — the primary U.S. law used in the prosecution of
Internet gambling — refers to engaging in the 'business' of
betting or wagering itself, and it's not clear that this applies
to individual gamblers," he said. "There are also practical and
political reasons to go after large companies as opposed to
Instead, the government has tried to put up some roadblocks to
stop people from gambling at online casinos.
Financial institutions agreed to stop allowing the use of credit
cards at online casinos a few years ago as part of settlements
with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. So these days,
online gamblers in the U.S. typically use offshore payment
systems like Neteller or Firepay and gamble with impunity.
Experts also point out that you are still on the hook for
federal income tax on your winnings at online casinos. And U.S.
gamblers need to be aware that since every Internet gambling
site is based in another country, they do not have the same
legal rights as they do when dealing with a company incorporated
in the United States.
"If you're going to bet, you have to be aware that you may not
have all of the enforcement remedies that you have when you go
to a land-based casino. But that's a reason, obviously, to only
gamble with a site that you have trusted and that has a record
of making its payments to users," said attorney Ken Dreifach,
the former chief of Spitzer's Internet Bureau and now a partner
at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP in New York.
"The further the U.S. government pushes this underground, the
more chance you have of getting organized crime involved in some
of this stuff," said Radley Balko, a policy analyst with the
Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.