Accepting casino and/or poker bets online (not sports betting!)
Accepting casino and/or poker bets from U.S. residents is less risky than accepting sport wagers, provided that you do not utilize U.S. phone lines, have the company based in the U.S. or have your severs located within the U.S. Also, you must of course stay away from other illegal activities such as money laundering, since even minor infringements can be used by a U.S. authority that would prefer to prosecute your for your gambling activities but fails to find a suitable law or evidence to do so. Don’t forget – Al Capone was prosecuted for tax evasion, not for the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.
In 2002, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the 1961 Wire Act applies to gambling on sporting events and contests, not to gambling in general. Despite this, the U.S. authorities kept trying to go after casino and poker sites using this act. Sometimes they succeeded. In 2008, Party Gaming co-founder Anurang Dikshit pleaded guilty to violating the 1961 Wire Act with his poker site. He forfeited $300 million and was sentenced to one year of probation. The following year, the Party Gaming company agreed to pay $105,000 to save the company from being prosecuted.
Nowadays, the situation has changed a bit as it has become more firmly established that the 1961 Wire Act only applies to sports betting – not poker, casino, bingo, etc. When the U.S. authorities takes legal action against poker sites and casino sites they will usually include actions such as money laundering, bank fraud or unlawful payment processing in the case, to avoid having to rely solely on the illegal gambling accusations.
When U.S. authorities seized the domains of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and UB in 2011, they also charged 11 individuals with money laundering and bank fraud, in addition to trying to tack on charges of illegal gambling. Once the ball started rolling, substantial embezzlement of Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and UB player funds were discovered, adding substance to the case.
In order to seize the domain names, the U.S. authorities went to the .com registry, which is located within the United States. This is an aspect to take into account for anyone wishing to set up a gambling site online that accepts wagers from U.S. residents. Please note that the U.S. authorities did not go to the registrars to seize the domains, they went to the registry. So, having used a registrar located outside the U.S. will not be helpful in cases like these, where the registry itself is based within the U.S.
Making bets online, as a player
This action is very low risk, regardless of whether you are betting on sports, casino games, poker, bingo, etc.
There is no U.S. federal law against placing wagers online, but some individual states do have very strict anti-wagering laws that might be used to prosecute an individual online punter.
“There is no federal law against being merely a player. About half the states do have ancient laws on the books that sometimes make it a crime to make a bet. But you have a better chance of winning the World Poker Tour than of being arrested.” – U.S. Attorney Nelson Rose in 2007
This doesn’t mean that making bets online is completely free of legal risk. You should study the laws and legal cases pertaining to your part of the United States before you make any decision. In 2003, Jeffrey Trauman was sentenced to paying a $500 fine for violating the anti-gambling laws of North Dakota. It is worthy of mentioning that Trauman was a major sports bettor who is estimated to have won over $100,000 online. The authorities of North Dakota going after someone who bets $25 on a football game once in a while is much less likely, unless you have attracted their attention because of something else.
Another case of violating state law is from Oklahoma, where Roland Benavides – a police officer – was convicted of gambling. He only received a deferred sentence. Oklahoma state law outlaws pretty much any kind of gambling, so it wasn’t a case specifically about online gambling.
The legal risk is not the only risk you will face when you place bets. You also risk developing a gambling disorder. Gambling addiction can have a very negative effect on your life. A good way to minimize the risk is to gamble in a casino that focus on responsible gambling. Swedish Casino companies are in the forefront of responsible gambling and usually offer an English version of their casino. One such example is SverigeCasino. If you want to find more examples of world class Swedish casinos that promote responsible gambling then i recommend that you visit the website www.nyasvenskacasinon.se. Nyasvenskacasinon.se provides information on new modern casinos operated by Swedish companies.