The legalities of gambling online...
Legal issues pertaining to online gambling differ substantially from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some countries have legislated specifically on the issue, others intend doing so and other haven't even considered it yet.
The position in the US
The US Government enacted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act ('UIGEA') in September 2006. The Act renders it illegal for certain payment processors to facilitate payments between US residents and online gambling sites.
The legality of the law from an international trade perspective was challenged by the Government of Antigua Barbuda in the World Trade Organization's court of arbitration which has since adjudicated the law as illegal. It does however still stand, although there are moves afoot to have UIGEA repealed by US lawmakers.
From a US player's perspective, it should be noted that UIGEA in no way stipulates the legality or otherwise of the act of gambling online - its operation targets payment facilitators and site operators not players. The challenge for US residents is finding a casino that will accept their custom.
A good summary of the US position is contained at Wikedepia's online gambling page
The position in Australia
Australia is one of the few countries that has legislation dealing specifically with online gambling, although the legislation is aimed more at operators than at players.
Australia's Interactive Gambling Bill makes it illegal for operators of online casinos to offer their product to Australian residents. While this prevents local online operators offering their product to Australian citizens, it has had little or no impact on the willingness of offshore operators to accept bets from Australians. This has given rise to the farcical situation where the legislation is in practice largely unenforceable
For a full PDF version of the Australian online gambling legislation click here
The position in UK
In 2005 the UK Government passed the Gambling Act 2005, making it legal for licensed operators to provide their product to UK residents. The Act also governs the marketing of online gambling sites. For the first time, Online casinos and sportsbooks were able to advertise to UK residents over terrestrial mass mediums such as television.
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