• Gambling/Gaming Law Overview

    Gaming and gambling laws, help from lawyers and attorneysGaming law consists of various regulations and statutes that apply to the gaming/gambling industry. Gaming law therefore encompasses many other traditional branches of law, such as constitutional law, administrative law, tax law, corporate law, contract law and criminal law. Gaming law is primarily governed by the states. Therefore, there is much variation in how the states regulate or prohibit gambling.

    There are, however, several important federal statutes that pertain to gaming law that have been enacted in the last several decades.

    Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1970 (18 U.S.C. §1955) (“IGBA”)
    The IGBA was enacted as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 to combat large-scale, illegal gambling operations that were thought to be financing organized crime. The elements of a Section 1955 claim apply to: 1) anyone who conducts, finances, manages, supervises, directs, or owns 2) all or part of an illegal gambling business that 3) is a violation of the law of the State in which it is conducted; involves five or more persons who conducts, finances, manages, supervises, directs, or owns all or part of such a business; has been or remains in substantially continuous operation for a period in excess of thirty days or has gross revenue of $2,000 in any one day. In order to qualify under Section 1955, the party must meet the statutory definition of a business and conduct illegal gambling activities. Violations of Section 1955 are punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years and/or fines not greater than twice the gain or loss associated with the offense or $250,000 ($500,000 for an organization).

    The Gambling Ship Act
    (18 U.S.C. §§ 1081 et seq.)
    The Gambling Ship Act applies to “gambling ships”, or vessels that are primarily used for the operation of one or more gambling establishments. It is presumed that a ship which operates one or more gambling establishments on board is a gambling ship within the definition, unless it cruises for a minimum of 24 hours with meals and lodging, or it docks at a foreign port. Section 1082 prohibits operating a gambling ship, holding an interest in a gambling ship or a gambling establishment on a gambling ship, conducting a gambling game or gambling device at a gambling establishment on a gambling ship, or soliciting a person to bet or play at a gambling establishment on a gambling ship when the vessel is on the high seas or "otherwise under or within the jurisdiction of the United States, and is not within the jurisdiction of any State."

    Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (31 U.S.C. §§ 5361–5367) (“UIGEA”)
    The UIGEA was enacted in 2006 under President Bush as part of the Security for Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006, or SAFE Port Act. The UIGEA "prohibits gambling 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.” Thus, the UIGEA applies to online gambling operators accepting money to fund accounts for players. The UIGEA does not prohibit mere participation in online betting or wagering. There has been much controversy recently as three major online gambling sites (Pokerstars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker) were indicted in April for bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling charges. There is debate as to whether poker is a game of skill or chance since the UIGEA and other federal legislation regulating online gaming only regulates gambling, which are games of chance. Likewise, players have complained that their constitutional freedoms are being infringed upon by the federal government on an activity that is not illegal to them.
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