6 Factors That Determine if You’re Gambling Legally in the USA

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Illegal Gambling. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The lawfulness of gambling varies from state to state, and what might appear legitimate in one place could be deemed illegal in another.

There are numerous illegal gambling activities, depending on where you live and the legal framework under which the act of gambling takes place. If you enjoy playing games or partake in activities that could win you significant amounts of money, the chances are that you’ve engaged in several forms of gambling.

However, if you’re uncertain whether the gambling you’re taking part in is legal, here are some factors that will help you establish whether you’re gambling legally.

1. State Approved Gambling

One common type of illegal gambling involves games that are not legal in one jurisdiction but are in another area.  Some countries recognise certain gambling games in practice, but even though it’s illegal to play those games, you’d probably not be fined or arrested.

So, if you plan to engage in wagering but are unsure of its legality, it’s best to steer clear of these games before you verify the local laws. There are places where even a casual betting game with friends is illegal.  Also, video poker is not considered legal unless the local government permits it and the venue where you’re gambling has a licence that allows these types of games.

2. Betting on Fights and Competitions

Activities like cock and dog fights are illegal in most places because these games are dangerous and promote animal cruelty, often ending up in severe injury or death of an animal. However, betting on dog/horse racing or bullfighting falls under a different category and is often considered legal. Still, other countries have different rules concerning this.

Remember, any game that you attend could potentially turn into betting. Since the principle of chance is incorporated into the game’s outcome, you may have to get governmental approval if you wish to gamble legally. In some instances, such as college sports, sports betting is illegal.  This is because individuals often coerce players into losing intentionally by paying them off so that one or more of the bettors can win a bet.

3. Online Gambling

Gambling via a computer is forbidden in several states. This type of wagering can be classified as an online game, a lottery, or an activity in which the player is at risk of losing money if the game is lost or has the chance of making a profit if the game is won while accessing the internet. In some countries, you could even end up paying a hefty fine or serving time in jail for trying to gamble online.

4. Gambling Age

While the gambling activity you’re engaging in might be legal, you would still be gambling illegally if you’re considered underage. Often, if you wish to bet on events like horse races or choose to buy a lottery ticket, you must be at least 18 years old. If you want to gamble at a casino, the minimum permissible age is usually 21.

5. Physical Location

In the US, some states also have riverboat casinos.  These floating casinos are considered legal, but there are often different stipulations regarding the games you can play on a riverboat and those allowed at a traditional casino.

6. Gambling Taxes

There are specific taxes associated with gambling, and if you fail to settle them, your wagering activity could be labelled as illegal. In the US, if your gambling winnings are US$600 or more, the establishment where you’ve wagered must report these takings, and you’d have to pay taxes on what you’ve won. These winnings must also be reported on federal and state tax returns.

If you’ve participated in illegal gambling, you may need the help of a lawyer. Business attorneys and criminal defence lawyers could help you figure out if you’ve got a legitimate case and assist you in court proceedings. This could keep you from having to pay fines or spending time in jail for illegal activities.  Ultimately, the more you learn about gambling and the associated loopholes, the less likely you will engage in unlawful gambling in the future.

Picture of Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

Besides polishing his SEO skills, Bojan has a penchant for creative writing. With over half a decade of experience in the online gambling industry under his belt, his written take on the latest news from the Canadian and global gambling industries is an indispensable source of information for the CASINOenquirer team. Bojan’s primary goal is to ensure that players get a superior experience through the top-notch content that he shares.

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