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Sep
1st

Internet Bingo-Legal or Illegal ?

In the United States gambling has a long and colorful history.  Until recently gambling was legal in most states. The advent of Native American casinos allowed the gambling industry to expand and brought in much needed revenues on Indian reservations. The Seminole tribe in Florida was the first tribe to operate bingo halls and casinos and within a few years’ tribes across the country made similar moves. It was only a matter of time before bingo and other forms of gambling went online creating a whole new set of problems for regulators. Since most online gaming operators are located offshore there has been little oversight.

In the US four types of gambling are legal; casinos, pari-mutuel betting, lotteries and charitable gambling. Bingo is the most popular form of charitable gambling in the US. Most of these forms of gambling are available online but their legal status is murky. This leaves players wondering if online bingo is legal and is online bingo safe to play? In the US the topic of internet gambling remains controversial. Social conservatives would like to see all forms of gambling banned while liberals and economic conservatives want the government to legalize tax and regulate online gambling. There have been several unsuccessful attempts in the US congress to do just that.

Currently US laws do not prohibit online gaming as long as no money changes hands. Current law forbids banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions from processing any gambling related transactions. Part of the debate regarding online gambling involves federal vs. states rights. Several states plan to offer legal online gambling to residents in the very near future. So far US regulators have been silent and have not revealed their position on the issue. In the US internet bingo players and other online gamblers must find creative and sometimes exotic ways to fund their online gaming accounts and collect their winnings.

Is online bingo safe to play and legal in the US? The answer is yes as long as no money is involved. While enforcement has been lax in the past the recent seizure of Funtime bingo sent shockwaves through the industry. Several bingo sites dumped American players but fortunately most players were able to retrieve funds in their accounts. As long as the US Department of Justice remains silent regarding internet bingo what the future holds is anybody’s guess.