Gaming Law
Civil Law & Litigation Corporate & Commercial Law

Gaming Law: Legal Perspectives and Practice

Wagers and Betting ought to be regulated by laws to prevent scam and avoidable malpractices. Gaming law is the set of laws that regulate wagers and betting in the United States. Gaming law transverses all of the laws that regulate every kind of games of chance or betting activity.

Games of chance(s) or wagers and conditions under which they can be offered are determined by Gaming Law. Generally, there are enactments directly regulate gaming, while there are other extant laws such as contract law, employment law and law of tort that indirectly impact the gaming industry.

Gaming Laws are interpreted and applied in the light of other related areas of law that impact the gaming industry.

Gaming Law

Sources of Gaming Law

The United States Federal Government, State laws and Tribal law (government) jointly regulate gaming activities. While the United States Federal Government regulates the gaming activities of private individuals as well as tribal government, States are at liberty to allow or prohibit various types of gaming activities. Tribal governments on the other hand can decide whether or not they want to offer gaming activities in their territory.

Types of Gaming in the United States

  • Las Vegas is the centre of gaming in US, though there are other types of gaming such as State lotteries and state sponsored scratch-off tickets are also legally permitted gaming activities in the United States.
  • State Lottery, the intention of setting up State lotteriesmay be to raise funds for broad-spectrum operations, and in some cases, they may direct the funds towards a specific government project such as education. States are at liberty whether or not to offer a lottery program. Some States do not offer lottery. States that offer lotteries sometimes work hand in hand by offering or operating interstate lottery, a example is the “Powerball”. States that allow gaming activities usually set up a commission to keep an eye on gaming activities and enforce State laws.
  • Sports betting are other types of gaming. Any activity that permits players pay to participate is a type of betting.

Dynamics of Gaming Law in the United States

A change in circumstances instantly effects a change in gaming activities in the United States and upon every new development, the laws that regulating gaming can change as well.

  • Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 outlawed sports betting in most states. The US Congress justified the Act under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution that empowers the US Congress to regulate economic activity between states.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of is Murphy v. NCAA, decided in 2018 by overturning the provision of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 and ruled that the law violates the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution which provides that powers not given to the Federal Government are left to the states. In other words, States are therefore permitted to legally allow and offer betting within their territory.

  • Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA) is a United States Law enactment to regulate gaming activities by Native Americans. The IGRA establishes the National Indian Gaming Commission, an agency of government saddled with the responsibility to supervise Native American gaming business enterprise and to enforce the provisions of the IGRA.

The IGRA mandates Native American tribes to utilize revenue from gaming activities for charitable purposes including but not limited to government owned operations, economic improvements and the welfare of their tribal members.

The IGRA divides gaming into major classes based on the type of activity. There is a regulatory authority established to supervise each class of gaming activity and there are also changeable amounts of restrictions.

  • The National Indian Gaming Commission

The IGRA made provision for the establishment of the National Indian Gaming Commission. The Commission is empowered to implement and enforce the provisions of the IGRA and to promote fair competition between gaming providers. The National Indian Gaming Commission is an agency of government under the U.S. Department of Interior.

United States Department of Justice

The United States Department of Justice is also involved in the administration of gaming law. This is in addition to the National Indian Gaming Commission. Violations of Federal Gaming Laws are Federal Crimes and the criminal prosecutions of allegations and violation of gaming law is handled by the Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice enforces gaming laws by the prosecution of its violations. There are other state prosecutorial agencies that work to combat fraud in gaming.

Possible area of public vulnerability to fraud is for instance the Scratch-off tickets, though gaming general may experience difficulties with fraudulent activity.

Internet Gaming

The advent of technology, the aggressive revolution and its dynamics has changed gaming law in the United States drastically. There are Federal enactments made in respect of Internet gaming illegal at the Internet’s inception.

Under the Federal Wire Act of 1961, it’s illegal to wire or transfer money for the purpose of placing a wager. An offender may face up to two years in prison for a violation of the Federal Wire Act. The United States further strengthened the federal prohibition on Internet gaming with the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006. The Act directly prohibits most types of Internet gambling.

Gaming Law and other Areas of Law

The enforcement, administration and practice of gaming law are interwoven with other areas of law. Apart from other areas mentioned already that directly regulate gaming activity, gaming law involves other areas of law. Attorneys specialized in the practice of gaming law may bump into any of the following area of law in the course of their practice:

Business law
Civil Litigation

Real estate law
Tax law
Employment law
Contract law
Administrative law
Criminal law
Questions and issues of Court Jurisdiction


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