The Time to Reform American Gaming Laws Has Come
The question “Is DFS legal in America?” is of a great interest to many nowadays, as there is no answer to it, says Martin Owens, an attorney specializing in gaming law.
New York’s Attorney General attacks Fan Duel and Draft Kings, DFS giants, blaming them in unlicensed gambling. But Massachusetts, California and 16 other states are trying to legalize it. While Kansas, Indiana and Virginia have already licensed it, their neighbours Illinois as well as Mississippi, Hawaii, Texas, Michigan and Georgia declared it illegal. Nevada offered operators submit to state licensing laws. The other states have not given a definite answer to this problem.
The state laws mainly regulate US gambling and it was not a problem until it dealt with brick-and-mortal institutions. Remote gambling was not a real possibility. But the development of technology changed everything. In 1903 all the bets were considered items of commerce by the Supreme Court and The Wire Act of 1961 was passed. And the appearance of the Internet revealed all the shortcomings of the state-based policy. Nowadays many state laws are rather outdated and vague and it is even difficult to find out whether it is violated or not. The Internet is mentioned only in the 11 states’ gambling laws.
The District of Columbia together with 16 states do not even define “gambling”, but just outlaw some games and devices. What do you know about faro, monte, rondo or hokey-pokey? If you know nothing about the times of the Gold Rush of 1849, these names are unfamiliar to you.
The same situation with definition is present in Tennessee. In Oklahoma and Ohio, for instance, poker is gambling and not a game of skill. West Virginia criminalizes gambling in outhouses.
Not only the definition of “gambling” is important, the place is also a significant matter. With the appearance of online gambling, the players can be from different states and the hosting server of the online institution can be in some other place. So which state has jurisdiction in this case? According to New Jersey, the place of the server matters, but other states haven’t solved this question yet.
Therefore, as you can see, the state laws are so vague that is difficult to tell what is forbidden and what is not. Especially it is evident with the UIGEA. And the actions against DraftKings and FanDuel prove this. Online gambling makes it easier to “mix-and-match elements of various games and formats” and the alternative payment systems gives a chance to monetize games without the necessity of considering a basic requirement. And it is evident that the attempts to control Internet gambling with old laws are useless. The time has come to reform the laws at the national level at least.