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Online Gambling Laws State by State Idaho to Michigan...By Hartley Henderson

Idaho Idaho disallows all gambling except those activities which are specifically permitted by the state. In fact, the rule against gambling is written into the state's constitution. Below is Article III Section 20 from that constitution. The fact that the state prohibits all forms of gambling indicates that it intended to disallow online gambling as well, although there is nothing specifically in their laws prohibiting the activity.

Section 20: Gambling
(1) Gambling is contrary to public policy and is strictly prohibited except for the following:
a. A state lottery which is authorized by the state if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation; and
b. Pari-mutuel betting if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation; and
c. Bingo and raffle games that are operated by qualified charitable organizations in the pursuit of charitable purposes if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation. (2) No activities permitted by subsection (1) shall employ any form of casino gambling including, but not limited to, blackjack, craps, roulette, poker, bacarrat, keno and slot machines, or employ any electronic or electromechanical imitation or simulation of any form of casino gambling. (3) The legislature shall provide by law penalties for violations of this section. (4) Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following are not gambling and are not prohibited by this section:
a. Merchant promotional contests and drawings conducted incidentally to bona fide nongaming business operations, if prizes are awarded without consideration being charged to participants; and
b. Games that award only additional play.

Illinois Like Idaho, Illinois disallows all forms of gambling including recreational betting. Illinois is also the first state in the alphabetical list to specifically specify internet wagering as a form of prohibited gambling. The following is from their criminal code in section 720

(a-5) "Internet" means an interactive computer service or system or an information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, and includes, but is not limited to, an information service, system, or access software provider that provides access to a network system commonly known as the Internet, or any comparable system or service and also includes, but is not limited to, a World Wide Web page, newsgroup, message board, mailing list, or chat area on any interactive computer service or system or other online service.
(a-6) "Access" and "computer" have the meanings ascribed to them in Section 16D-2 of this Code.

While gambling itself is a misdemeanor on all counts, anyone in the gambling business faces a felony charge on second and subsequent conviction.

For that reason, almost every online gambling site lists Illinois as a prohibited state for registration.

Indiana Indiana is best known for basketball which is perhaps why the state has such strict gambling laws, given the past incidences with game fixing in college hoops. The state has determined that gambling means risking money to make money and if anyone is caught doing so they are guilty of a misdemeanor. If anyone is caught in the business of gambling they are committing a felony. The "business of gambling" in Indiana includes operating a gambling website. Furthermore anyone that has a business that connects to an internet betting site is considered to be guilty as well. Consequently, the state does not recognize recreational gambling by its citizens as legal and hence most gambling websites forbid citizens of Indiana from registering with their site.

Iowa Iowa has strict laws against gambling for any activity that is not sanctioned by the state itself. The state does permit various kinds of social gaming such as charitable events, pari-mutuel wagering and what it titles "game nights", but otherwise recreational gambling is disallowed with one exception. That exception allows for gambling between individuals provided the amount wagered is less than $50 in a 24 hour period. That certainly brings back the definition of penny ante poker. There is no direct mention of internet wagering within the laws itself. The penalty for being found to have wagered over the permitted amount is what the state calls a "serious misdemeanor" i.e. jail time. That said, I have been unable to find any cases of recreational gamblers in Iowa that have been convicted of a crime in the last 2 years. There is no mention of internet wagering in their statutes.

Kansas Home state of the Jayhawks, Kansas's laws are clearly designed to dissuade those in the business of gambling. Anyone convicted of owning a gambling establishment or device and those commercially in the business of non-state sanctioned gambling is guilty of a felony and subject to strict jail time. Those who are caught betting for money, even recreationally, are guilty of what the state titles a Class B non-person misdemeanour which entails a fine of $500 to $1000 and/or 2 days in the clink. Again, there are no recent cases of anyone that has been jailed for recreational gambling in Kansas and there is nothing on the books that specifically discusses internet wagering.

Kentucky When one thinks of Kentucky the two things that come to mind are bourbon and horse racing, not necessarily in that order. So it shouldn't be surprising that Kentucky has relatively tame laws in relation to other states when dealing with recreational gambling. The state is clear to distinguish between "advanced" gaming (i.e. those in the business of betting) and "the player" i.e. those who simply gamble. While the advanced gambler is subject to a felony conviction, the player is essentially let off provided the players are wagering among themselves. There is also no specific mention of the internet, so it can be implied that recreational wagering on internet sites from Kentucky is legal since federal law doesn't prohibit it. The following is the exact wording from their statutes (as poorly worded as it is) which shows that the player is exempt.

"A person who gambles at a social game of chance on equal terms with other participants does not otherwise advance gambling activity by performing acts, without remuneration or fee, directed toward the arrangement or facilitation of the game as inviting persons to play, permitting the use of premises therefor and supplying equipment used therein."

Louisiana Looking at the gambling statutes of Louisiana, one has to wonder if Jon Kyl wrote the laws for the state. The statutes of the state do not prohibit recreational or social gambling with the exception of internet wagering. In fact, gambling by computer was given a special section within the Louisiana statutes under RS 14:90.3. Aside from just mentioning that gambling by computer or accepting wagers on the internet is illegal, the legislators found it necessary to go into a long diatribe as to why the activity is illegal. One can just hear the southern twang and moral chest thumping as this was written:

§90.3. Gambling by computer
A. The Legislature of Louisiana, desiring to protect individual rights, while at the same time affording opportunity for the fullest development of the individual and promoting the health, safety, education, and welfare of the people, including the children of this state who are our most precious and valuable resource, finds that the state has a compelling interest in protecting its citizens and children from certain activities and influences which can result in irreparable harm. The legislature has expressed its intent to develop a controlled well-regulated gaming industry. The legislature is also charged with the responsibility of protecting and assisting its citizens who suffer from compulsive or problem gaming behavior which can result from the increased availability of legalized gaming activities. The legislature recognizes the development of the Internet and the information super highway allowing communication and exchange of information from all parts of the world and freely encourages this exchange of information and ideas. The legislature recognizes and encourages the beneficial effects computers, computer programming, and use of the Internet resources have had on the children of the state of Louisiana by expanding their educational horizons. The legislature further recognizes that it has an obligation and responsibility to protect its citizens, and in particular its youngest citizens, from the pervasive nature of gambling which can occur via the Internet and the use of computers connected to the Internet. Gambling has long been recognized as a crime in the state of Louisiana and despite the enactment of many legalized gaming activities remains a crime. Gambling which occurs via the Internet embodies the very activity that the legislature seeks to prevent. The legislature further recognizes that the state's constitution and that of the United States are declarations of rights which the drafters intended to withstand time and address the wrongs and injustices which arise in future years. The legislature hereby finds and declares that it has balanced its interest in protecting the citizens of this state with the protection afforded by the First Amendment, and the mandates of Article XII, Section 6 of the Constitution of Louisiana and that this Section is a product thereof.
B. Gambling by computer is the intentional conducting, or directly assisting in the conducting as a business of any game, contest, lottery, or contrivance whereby a person risks the loss of anything of value in order to realize a profit when accessing the Internet, World Wide Web, or any part thereof by way of any computer, computer system, computer network, computer software, or any server. Skipping the rest of the diatribe and getting to the nitty gritty the punishment for internet betting in Louisiana is steep

D. Whoever commits the crime of gambling by computer shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both. Bottom line - don't gamble on the internet if you live in Louisiana, although Congressman Charlie Melancon is on board to defeat the UIGEA.

Maine The most north-east state has very little related to recreational gambling in its statutes. The state distinguishes between those in the gambling industry and the player and has determined that a simple "player" is exempt from the law. Having said that, it also clearly states that the "player" exemption is only for bets between players where no company profits as an intermediary. Nevertheless, the statute seems to focus on those in the business of gambling and is not concerned with recreational gambling. If someone is convicted of simple gambling in a non-social way (i.e. with a bookmaker or a gaming company) they are guilty of a misdemeanour. Again, no recent cases have been noted of anyone being arrested for recreational gambling in that state. There is nothing on the books related to internet wagering. Maryland Considering how severe the penalties are for recreational gambling in DC, it is not surprising that Maryland has similar statutes. In the definition of gambling in the laws of the state the first two paragraphs say all that needs to be said

12-102. Betting, wagering, gambling, etc. (a) Prohibited.- A person may not: (1) bet, wager, or gamble; (2) make or sell a book or pool on the result of a race, contest, or contingency; (3) establish, keep, rent, use, or occupy, or knowingly allow to be established, kept, rented, used, or occupied, all or a part of a building, vessel, or place, on land or water, within the State, for the purpose of: (i) betting, wagering, or gambling; or (ii) making, selling, or buying books or pools on the result of a race, contest, or contingency; or
(4) receive, become the depository of, record, register, or forward, or propose, agree, or pretend to forward, money or any other thing or consideration of value, to be bet, wagered, or gambled on the result of a race, contest, or contingency.

(b) Penalty.- A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment for not less than 6 months and not exceeding 1 year or a fine of not less than $200 and not exceeding $1,000

Imagine spending 6 months in jail for placing a bet. Heck, drunk drivers don't even get that long of a sentence on the first offense. The only gambling that the state seems to exempt are pari-mutuel wagering at tracks like Pimlico, slot machines in certain circumstances and bingo. There is no mention whatsoever of the internet, but the fact that the first line states "A person may not bet wager or gamble" seems to encompass any eventuality where that can occur.

Massachusetts The home state of Barney Frank, the congressman that is leading a charge to overturn the UIGEA, what he called "the stupidest law ever passed" along with supporters James McGovern and Michael Capuano, one would expect the laws to be fairly liberal laws when it comes to recreational gambling, but such is not the case. Massachusetts specifically disallows "illegal" betting but then fails to describe exactly what that entails. The statutes are also fixated on stopping people from conducting lotteries and for placing or receiving bets via. telephone. There is absolutely no mention of player to player gambling in the statutes or betting by way of computer. As such, it is hard to understand what Massachusetts law says about recreational gambling. But since it only disallows "illegal betting" which they have failed to define, one can assume they are referring to gambling outlawed by the feds which is why they mention the telephone over and over in their statute (i.e. the wire act). The bottom line for Massachusetts is that it should be safe to wager via computer at your favorite site or socially with friends, but stay away from that dreaded telephone. Either way, the penalty is a misdemeanor subject to a fine.

Michigan Of all the states, Michigan seems to have the most convoluted logic in the development of their gambling statutes. First of all, the penalties for gambling infractions rank up there with capital crimes like manslaughter or breaking and entering with penalties of up to 10 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine. Second, aside from operating a gambling business or bookmaking, the law also applies as follows in section 432.218 of the criminal code

(e) Except as otherwise provided by the board, uses or possesses with the intent to use a device to assist in doing any of the following:

(i) Projecting the outcome of a gambling game.

(ii) Keeping track of the cards played in a gambling game.

(iii) Analyzing the probability of the occurrence of an event relating to a gambling game.

(iv) Analyzing the strategy for playing or betting to be used in a gambling game.

(f) Cheats at a gambling game.

(g) Manufactures, sells, or distributes cards, chips, dice, a game, or a device that is intended to be used to violate this act.

(h) Alters or misrepresents the outcome of a gambling game on which wagers have been made after the outcome is determined but before it is revealed to the players.

(i) Places a bet after acquiring knowledge, not available to all players, of the outcome of the gambling game that is the subject of the bet or to aid a person in acquiring the knowledge for the purpose of placing a bet contingent on that outcome.

(j) Claims, collects, takes, or attempts to claim, collect, or take money or anything of value in or from the gambling games, with intent to defraud, without having made a wager contingent on winning a gambling game, or claims, collects, or takes an amount of money or thing of value of greater value than the amount won.

(k) Uses counterfeit chips or tokens in a gambling game.

(l) Possesses a key or device designed for the purpose of opening, entering, or affecting the operation of a gambling game, drop box, or an electronic or mechanical device connected with the gambling game or for removing coins, tokens, chips, or other contents of a gambling game. This subdivision does not apply to a gambling licensee or employee of a gambling licensee acting in furtherance of the employee's employment

So in better words, someone who is a handicapper, touts games or counts cards can get 10 years in jail. Yikes!!

Michigan law also disallows bucket shops.

As far as casual betting, the state laws also mention that all recreational or social gambling is illegal, but if the amount won or lost is under $50 then they will only take the winnings. If it is over $50 then those gambling recreationally are subject to up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

However, to make the law as complicated and confusing as possible, Michigan adds two exceptions - The first exception is for gambling on bowling games where the amount bet is no more than $5 per frame (I get the impression it is a form of bingo) at certain bowling alleys in that state, and the second exception is for senior citizen's homes provided the people betting are over 60 years of age, the home has at least 15 people in it, the wagers are no more than a quarter per bet and the pot doesn't get to more than 5 bucks. As well, the betting can only take place between the hours of 9 am (this allows for teeth to be inserted, breakfast eaten and of course a good sponge bath!) and midnight ET (keeping in mind bedtime is usually 10 p.m. when all those sleeping aids kick in).

So if you're an elderly gambling bowler in Michigan you're in luck!!

There is no mention of internet wagering in their statutes.

Hartley Henderson

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