The days when slot machines were mainly used in smoky corner pubs have long been a thing of the past. In the meantime, the problem has shifted to the Internet with power. All types of gambling are offered in online casinos – slots, roulette, blackjack and much more. And the offer is becoming increasingly popular. The providers can have billions in sales, the players sense the chance of a quick and easy win – they are lured with bonuses and free spins.
The casinos also stand out due to massive advertising on TV, print media and the Internet – more and more well-known football clubs are also sponsored by betting providers. But is it legal to play at these online casinos in USA? The answer to this question is anything but simple and clear. The following article is intended to provide an overview of the unclear legal situation and to shed some light on the situation.
The question to the answer is actually simple and unspectacular: Playing in online casinos is illegal in Germany. However, every “actually” is inevitably followed by a “yes, but!” – And really simple answers to legal questions are extremely rare anyway.
So let’s start from scratch: online casinos are virtual casinos that can be accessed over the Internet. Online casinos make it possible to bet and play casino games on devices connected to the Internet – such as computers, smart TVs, tablets, etc.
The national legal basis in USA is the State Treaty on Gambling, which basically rules out organizing games of chance on the Internet. The main arguments are addiction prevention and fraud protection. Games of chance in Germany are only legal if they are approved by the state and the operators have a corresponding license. In the real world, this includes, for example, the state casinos or commercial machine operators, and 20 licenses were also granted to sports betting providers in the virtual world. As a result, this means a state monopoly on gambling – a regulation that has always been subjected to massive criticism. Proponents of a liberalization of the betting market accuse the public sector of
The first crux is the State Treaty on Gambling itself – for various reasons. On the one hand, regulation of the gaming market is a national matter. In principle, every federal state can decide for itself how it distributes its licenses. The federal state of USA has already started going it alone in the past and has given online casino providers the appropriate licenses. Although these were explicitly only for USA, the betting offer was nevertheless advertised nationwide and attracted players from all over USA to the website. However, the licenses have now expired again
The Reality in Online Casinos
As already mentioned in the introduction, one can hardly avoid advertising for online casinos. This is possible above all because the providers generally obtain licenses from USA, Gibraltar or the Isle of Man and claim to be able to offer their games throughout. They argue that the German prohibition does not apply to them and violates European law. However, this is in clear contradiction to the decision of the Federal Administrative Court.
However, the providers have little to fear. This is because the supervisory authorities allow this and in fact do not enforce the existing prohibitions. This applies both to the operation of the website and the promotion of it. If you want to gamble away your money in an online casino in USA, you can do so without any restrictions.
Online Casinos User liability
While the legal dogma questions and the further development are quite interesting, the only simple question that regularly arises for the user of an online casino is: Do I make myself punishable by using an online casino or not? After that, anyone who participates in public gambling. The sentence ranges from a fine to up to six months’ imprisonment.
In practice, however, it can be said that convictions for simply using an online casino are the absolute exception. Investigation proceedings are also only rarely initiated and are also regularly discontinued, should this ever happen. But: Criminal prosecution is not completely excluded. In 2014, the USA district court fined a blackjack player – specifically, however, it also involved stakes and winnings in the six-figure range. These are sums that normal consumers are rarely likely to handle.
Incidentally, in civil law, the application of USA law is limited based on certain criteria. According to this, this should only apply if the website (also) is accessed as intended in USA. The language, the currency, the top-level domain and the place of performance play a role. Handling that is much more convincing than that of the criminal courts.
The bottom line is that the current legal situation can only be described as catastrophic. One cannot avoid the impression that government agencies themselves do not know how to deal with the current situation and the ever booming market. The hesitation and the disagreement of the legislators are also water on the mills. A reform of the gaming law would be urgently and absolutely necessary. In the near future, further and further fragmentation of the legal situation is to be feared after the announced move by the federal state of USA.
For the users of the services of an online casino, it must be emphasized once again that participation in these games of chance is illegal in USA and can in principle lead to criminal consequences. However, the truth is that the risk of actual persecution is only in the alcohol range. Ultimately, it is up to you to assess whether you want to take this risk. Regardless of the usefulness of playing in an online casino in general.