Are Online Slots Legal?
Searching for legal online slots is not as easy as you might think, because so many jurisdictions exist. Not only are there over 200 national governments on Earth, but many of those countries have state and provincial governments which regulate or outlaw gambling. Federal states like the United States and Germany often have complicated gaming laws, because the national and state governments clash over policy.
In certain parts of the world, even local city governments weigh in on online gambling, such as the city of Markham in Canada. Finding a current and comprehensive list of gambling laws for your local, state, and national agencies is not easy. One source finds it hard to keep their legal data complete.
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Legal Slot Casinos for US Players
Americans face a grimmer gambling reality. After the Congress passed the UIGEA law 7 years ago, many of the legit UK and European gambling operations left the US market. The UIGEA gave anti-gambling authorities in the United States more power to investigate and prosecute casinos. Though it was a huge part of some company’s revenue stream, it wasn’t safe to accept US players.
In the years since Microgaming and Playtech stopped accepting Americans, that void has been filled by RealTime Gaming, Top Game Technology, and BetSoft. Only about one-third of BetSoft’s 87 casinos accept American players, while most of RTG’s 75 casinos do. Once again, because these companies accept your money, don’t assume that means it’s legal for you to play for real money. A handful of the BetSoft and RTG may not be legit operators, because a slot software company licensing its product to a casino does not confer legitimacy on that site.
Legal Online Slots for UK Players
This is a more pressing issue for people from certain countries. Slots players from the United Kingdom have dozens of excellent playing options. Many of the most famous land-based UK casinos have operations online, so a UK citizen who plays at these casinos on vacation might play at their Internet manifestation in their everyday lives. The largest of these corporations are traded on the London Stock Exchange, so their gambling activities are licensed, regulated, and taxed. That’s not the case with American gamblers.
Online Casinos Accepting Players
A few websites offer information on the nationality of players accepted by a particular online casino. Since casino operators don’t want to be prosecuted, this gives a hint about how they think of the legal ramifications of your home country. This isn’t a definitive statement about legality, though. For one thing, people make terrible choices at times, especially when motivations like money or profit come into the equations. The operator might be a bit more of a risk taker than yourself.
Also, operators often live in offshore locations. A gambling site owner in the Netherlands Antilles or Antigua & Barbuda might not be too fearful of U.S. anti-gambling agencies, or at least as concerned about them as American casino gamblers. The casino owners sometimes live in the same area as the licensing authority, so they assume they’re protected by that government’s stance on electronic gambling.
Licensing Authorities that Legalize Online Slot Casinos
I mentioned the Netherlands Antilles, because more US friendly online casinos seem to be licensed by Curacao in the Caribbean Sea than other sites. Licensing authorities like the Kahnawake Gaming Commission also license a number of sites which accept American gamblers. Antigua and Barbuda, former British colonies in the Caribbean, have sued the United States government before the WTO court (and won a Pyrrhic victory), is also a place which licenses and regulates online slots sites which accept US players. Those living in Europe get used to seeing licenses from Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Alderney, or the Isle of Man.
Once again, a licensed online casino might be legitimate and fair and they might accept your money, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal for you to play slots there. Everything depends on what the local laws are where you IP address is located. Sites can’t be responsible for knowing exactly where you’re from, so they don’t see themselves as responsible for whether you’re gaming legally. In the past 10 to 15 years, it’s never been much of a problem what an individual gambler did, so much as the operators and those who support them. That might not always be the case.
Are Gamblers Prosecuted?
In the past, people haven’t been prosecuted for gambling illegally. If a website was deemed to be an illegal operator in a country, the worst that might happen to a gambler is to have their account frozen and confiscated in an investigation of the casino or money transfer service they used for gambling. That’s bad, but nothing compared to prosecution. What I tell gamblers all the time is the past is not always an indicator of the future. Officials could prosecute illegal online gamblers in the future, so people need to know if their activities are legal.
How to Stay Legal Playing Online Slots
If you have doubts about the legality of your situation, I’d suggest you avoid online slots for real money. You can play Facebook slots for credits or enjoy other forms of gambling that US authorities deem appropriate (for some reason). As much as I want to say gambling online won’t get you in trouble, I can’t give a 100% assurance. Don’t risk legal trouble for the sake of your hobby. Wait til your trip to Las Vegas, Tunica, or the Native American casino to gamble for real money. In the meantime, hope the government stops telling you what to do with your money in the privacy of your home. Better yet, call your congressman and suggest they change the laws.