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8 legal facts every gambler should know

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From a legal point of view, gambling is subject of for both state and federal legislation. It is the subject of never ending and passionate debates taking into consideration everything from its economic benefits brought to locations where casinos are placed, to the negative effects mostly blamed on the well-known addiction associated with this activity.

U.S. is characterized by an overwhelming diversity regarding state regulation of gambling against the Legal Status of Online Gambling in Canada

Because each state has the freedom of dealing with this issue as it considers fit, regulations vary a lot in terms of legal age and what type of gambling is legally allowed. From all the elements of a complex and still changing legal framework, there are a few things every gambler should know.

1) First gambling law

The first state to legalize most forms of gambling was Nevada, in 1931 followed by New Jersey 1977.

2) Legal and illegal in history

Most of the gambling forms known today have been illegal in the United States until 1990. The trigger which determined many of the states to legalize some forms of gambling starting with 1990 was the passage of the Gaming Act, also known as the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act in 1988 bringing tribal gaming under the regulation of state and federal governments.

3) Legal gambling regulators

In U.S. gambling is considered legal under the federal law, but each state has the right to prohibit the practice of certain types of gambling within their borders and to regulate as they see fit the allowed types of gambling.

At state level, the legal gambling regulator is a government agency with the right and responsibility of regulating and enforcing the law regarding casinos and other types of gaming. This government agencies are known as gaming control boards (GCBs), casino control boards, gambling boards or gaming commissions. Their names differ depending on the jurisdiction, but their role is pretty much the same in deciding what types of gambling are allowed in their state, where it can be located and who is allowed to gamble.

Gaming control boards have the role of promulgating rules on regulations covering a broad range of activities connected to casino and other types of gaming such as: licensing, accounting system, auditing and rules of casino games.

4) Minimum legal gambling age

According to the state law, you are legally allowed to gamble if you are older than 18 years in states such as Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota and Wyoming. You need to have at least 21 years old in order to gamble in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. For the rest of the states "depends" is the key word and it depends on what is the game of your choice and where you intend to gamble:

in Arkansas you have to be 18 years old for pari-mutuel wagering and 21 for slots,

in California, Oklahoma, and New York you need to be at least 18 to enter in some casinos and 21 in others.

in Connecticut, Oregon, Wisconsin you are allowed to play bingo if you are 18, and gamble in the casino if you are 21,

to bet on Delaware horse raising you have to be at least 18 years old and at least 21 for slots,

In Florida 18 is the limit for bingo, poker or pari-mutuels and 21 for slots,

Indiana and Louisiana allows anyone over 18 to participate in pari-mutuels and over 21 to gamble,

In Maine the limit is 18 for pari-mutuel and 21 for slots,

In Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania 18 for pari-mutuel and 21 for casinos,

And in New Mexico you need to be over 18 to play bingo and pari-mutuel and 21 for casinos.

5) Types of gambling according to the American Gaming Association

AGA classifies gambling into eight categories:

  •  Card-Rooms (private and public)
  •  Commercial casinos (founded and run by private companies) allowed in 23 states.
  •  Charitable games and bingo allowed in all states except Hawaii, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.
  •  Indian casinos legalized in 30 states.
  •  Legal bookmaking
  •  Lotteries allowed in 44 states.
  •  Pari-mutuel wagering allowed in 35 states.
  •  Advanced deposit wagering allowed in Illinois since 1999.

6) Heaviest gambling states in U.S. ready to receive you

There are 23 states allowing legal casinos on their territories currently, according to the AGA database. From the 23, there are 10 that can be considered the heaviest gambling states, offering the best deals, with a total of 399 casinos and those are: Iowa (18), Illinois (10), Missouri (13), New York (9), Mississippi (30), Indiana (13), Louisiana (18), New Jersey (12), Pennsylvania (11), and Nevada (265).

7) Legality of online gambling

Maybe the hottest subject these days regarding legal gambling, regulators, licenses and authorities. From all 50 states, only three have legal, licensed and regulated online gambling and those are Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. The only way you can gamble on-line using the website of a virtual casino licensed in one of these states is if you are also physically present in one of them.

8) The "unlawful" side of the law

While there is actually no federal law making it illegal to gamble online, there is no such law legalizing it and such, in many cases, gambling becomes illegal because the state's law considers everything not defined as "lawful" as being "unlawful". There are also offshore virtual casinos you can use to gamble, but, it is important to take into account that while you may find the law a little bit harsh and limiting, gambling on offshore websites is risky since they do not fall under the law of your state and you are exposed to a certain risk in case of legal issues.

While legal aspects regarding gambling might seem complex and complicated, it is very easy to understand what is legal and what is not simply by referring to only one state. Despite the discussions regarding the negative effects of gambling, legalization is moving forward because its positive effects can't be denied. From jobs, touristic development of the areas hosting casinos and money for the state through taxes casinos pay, legal gambling is a way to improve economic situation.

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