The Legalities of Online Poker

Although gambling is decidedly legal in the United States, not all websites that offer online gambling have legal permits. Besides, gambling especially casinos are strictly regulated in the US, perhaps even more so than in other countries in the world.

The same cannot be said of online gambling. Unlike countries in Europe and in the United Kingdom, online gambling in the United States has not merited any attention yet. In fact, there is no particular law regulating the online gambling process.

This can be quite confusing for online gamblers. While they won’t get into too much trouble because as mentioned, states are just starting to develop regulations for online gambling, gamblers are of course still reluctant to participate if there are potential legal issues.

Potential risks

Basically, only operators of online gambling sites can get into trouble if they don’t have licenses. Players are not actually prohibited to participate in online gambling games although of course there will be risks to their money if they choose to play on sites that don’t have permits.

Another risk that players on online gambling sites that do not have permits is the fact that their personal information will be an open book to the operators of the site. If the site turns out to be bogus, this will pose a great risk on the player… that is if he has not already lost his privacy to online hackers which can easily hack the information.

Only operators

Most states are already quite eager to legalize online gambling. However, the government is very cautious on the subject because online gambling sites can be used by money launderers for their illegal operations.

So far, there is no single law in the Unites States that deems playing in online casinos illegal. However, the Wire Act, which is often used or cited in reference to illegal online gambling has a section which says that people who are engaged in the business of online gambling can be fined or imprisoned but the act of course only covers the individual who presides over the business.

This however was cleared up when the US Supreme Court refused to review the case of Jay Cohen. The Wire Act, it seems, does not prohibit Internet gambling. This decision was upheld by the US Fifth Circuit Federal Appeals Court, which stated that “the Wire Act concerns gambling on sporting events or contests…”

One of the bills that are filed in Iowa by James Leach, inhibits people to gamble online although there is nothing in the bill that criminalizes the act. Several bills have in fact been proposed, targeting online wagers and online gambling. There are however no bills that have so far targeted the players. It seems that although some would like to discourage the proliferation of gambling sites and the participation of people in online gambling, no one wants to make it a criminal act.

For some states, online gambling per se is illegal but the letter of the law does not penalize the players but the perpetrators. A long as players remain only players in the game and do not act as a bookie, an agent, or an owner, then there will be no problem with the existing law. This is of course true with all online games including online poker.

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Is Travel Insurance Legalized Gambling?

Some people think “Isn’t travel insurance just legalized gambling? I think every time I don’t file a claim, the company wins. Right?”

I wouldn’t say it’s a gamble, though there’s risk involved with any kind of contract you enter into. Insurance is a unilateral contract because only one party, the insurer, has made a legally enforceable promise, such as to pay covered claims.

Here’s how I explain it:

Buying travel insurance is a risk: You are trading a known certainty (your hard earned money) for an unknown quantity – the promise of the insurance policy doing what it says. This is why I pre-screen the plans we offer.

People manage the risk of losing money on a trip different ways:

Some people use the same insurance company for every trip
Some self-insure
Some ignore travel / trip / cruise insurance altogether
Some take their agent’s advice
Some shop around
Some forget

Even though I sell travel insurance, I believe insuring a trip is a personal decision. None of these choices is inherently right or wrong, they are just a matter of personal preference.

Now, sometimes you have to lay aside your own prejudices in order to protect other people from the negative result of your decision. For example, when I was a life insurance agent, it surprised me how many people purposely ignored their family’s financial condition should they die young. They always thought they’d beat the system by living long. The trouble is that death is permanent & guaranteed.

If losing money by not traveling, having an expensive medical claim or needing a costly emergency evacuation wouldn’t burden you nor destroy your finances, then the need for travel insurance probably doesn’t exist for you.

If any of those events would cause you distress, consider getting travel insurance for your trip.

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