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US internet gambling court case suggests online gambling may be lawful in 44 states

Sep 3, 2009

The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) recently challenged US online gambling laws in court. The law they were after – called the UIGEA – is what makes it difficult for US players to gamble on the internet. This law does not make internet gambling illegal, but it does try to make it difficult by preventing banks from processing payments to and from online gambling sites.

iMEG’s case against the UIGEA was simple – they insisted that the law was vague, and that it should be thrown out. Judge Dolores Sloviter of the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. She ruled against iMEGA’s claim, arguing that the wording in the UIGEA is very clear.

At the end of the trial, however, Sloviter made a statement that is causing quite a stir. First, the judge reminded everyone that the UIGEA does not make online gambling illegal – this is not big news, we have been repeating it here over and over.

But here is the interesting part: Sloviter said that the decision about whether or not a financial transaction is illegal under the UIGEA depends on the gambling laws of the state where the bet was initiated. If the bet is legal under the laws of the state where the player is betting from, then any transactions related to that bet are also legal. This is because the UIGEA only reinforces existing gambling laws, so in states with no laws that explicitly address online gambling, it appears that the UIGEA does not apply.

According to this reading of the law, online gambling and the processing of related money transactions is potentially lawful in 44 US states, since only a few states have laws that specifically forbidding internet gambling.

Over the next few weeks we will see the repercussions of this decision, but at this point, it’s still too early to know exactly what this will mean for online gambling in the US. In the meantime, US players can still access several great online casinos, where blackjack and other real-money games are offered. Check out our US casino reviews for more information.


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