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UK Bookmakers struggle under the Ambiguity of US Gambling Laws

Jan 18, 2008
In a federal sense, it has been illegal to gamble in the United States for years; unless individual States create their own legislation concerning gambling, it is purely illegal in the US. The obvious exception to this rule is in Las Vegas, a city that makes its living by enticing travelling gamblers in with its bright lights, dazzling stage shows and a myriad of gambling opportunities. In Vegas and a few other States and cities in the United States, you can gamble to your heart's content with blackjack tables, KENO, card games, slot machines and even sports games. The tourist locations aside, gambling is still a federal offence in the US and because of this the laws concerning online gambling on websites based in and outside of America were confusing at best.

In 2006 to clarify the situation, US Congress voted to ban online gambling in the United States however this has led to further confusion within the industry. Americans have continued to spend millions of dollars on internet gambling sites over the last decade and many still attempt to do so despite the negative push from their government.

What does this mean for UK Bookmakers?

Before the Congress bill was passed, UK and international bookmakers had little issue with allowing American citizens to gamble online through their websites; after 2006, however, many British-based online bookmakers were forced to finally confront the issue of gambling's illegality in America. Many account holders were American and therefore bookmakers stood to lose substantial earnings from the elimination of the American market; another issue concerning the prohibition was the fact that horseracing remained an ambiguous issue.

In the 1970's, legislation was passed in the US that made bets on horse races legal; the question after 2006 was, therefore, is it illegal to bet on horse racing online? Technically speaking, the online gambling law is a blanket one that leaves no room for specifics. Since horse race bets were deemed appropriate despite other gambling laws in the country, however, it seems logical that online horse race betting is perfectly legal as well.

Another issue facing the UK bookmakers in relation to American account holders is the fact that US lawmakers have failed to address whether or not Americans can gamble online if the website is not based in the US. Technically speaking, given the nature of the internet, if an American places bets online at a UK-based website, it is as if they are gambling in another country where it is perfectly legal.

The laws remain quite ambiguous however many UK and international online gambling websites have decided to ban Americans from using their services.
About the Author
Shaun Parker has been involved with betting for several years now. For more information visit Free Betting Online
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