back to article US prosecutors: Hey, you know how we said 'net gambling was OK? LMAO, we were wrong

Last November, US Justice Department officials, having reviewed the nation's laws, quietly concluded that, oops, interstate and international internet gambling is actually illegal. For some reason, that view was only made public on Monday. And for now, this hot take is not being enforced across the country. Published here [PDF …

  1. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Loot boxes next?

    EA and Activision must be quaking in their greedy little corporate boots.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Loot boxes next?

      I presume this means big video game corps will be happy to set up a server in every state possibly sharing hosting with each other to keep costs down, or maybe Azure/AWS will do one data centre per state and all the leaches will pile in and rent space.

      Where there's a will to suck money off of people who can't afford it there's a way.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Loot boxes next?

        I dont see how thats gonna help.

        They've just decided online gambling is illegal in various states - presumably meaning it is illegal in those states to connect to a gambling server wether its in or out of the state. Bringing the casino nearer to the place where its illegal wont help will it?

        1. Cynic_999

          Re: Loot boxes next?


          Bringing the casino nearer to the place where its illegal wont help will it?


          The way I read it, it will help. In the US, it is illegal to gamble across states - IOW if you are physically in one state, a U.S. gambling establishment that is situated in a different state (or country) is not permitted to accept your bet. Phoning your local betting shop & placing a bet is OK, phoning a betting shop in a different state to place a bet is illegal. Casinos were not originally considered to be subjected to that law because casinos at the time required gamblers to be physically on their premises making it impossible to place bets from a different state. Someone has just realised that Internet casinos have now made such a thing possible.

          The question I guess is exactly where an Internet gambling establishment is physically located. At the server? At the parent company HQ? At the location of any shared database? At the location of the bank where the bets are deposited?

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Loot boxes next?

            ah , thanks for the correction,

            the local bookies will be overjoyed!

            I guess they can get round it by detectingh IP location and dynamicly re skinning the gambling website with a "welcome to your local Utah gambling shop" banner

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Loot boxes next?

          The legality of gambling in a state depends on the type of gambling it is and which state the gambling is carried out in, but after this ruling interstate gambling is always deemed illegal even if you're in one state where it's legal and the backend is in another state where it's also legal.

          Hence servers in every state (except Hawaii and Utah where all gambling is illegal).

          Internet gambling is going to be difficult, I guess, unless it's via a mobile app with location services on.

  2. veti Silver badge

    Does this have anything to do with Antigua's long-standing complaint against the US blocking its online casinos?

    As I recall it, Antigua's case to the WTO was that the US was being discriminatory because it allowed online betting with US casinos. The WTO sided with them and awarded damages, but the USA has still not paid out so much as a dime. Now they're changing the rules - retroactively, no less - they can ask the WTO to re-examine the case and find they're not discriminating after all.

    What odds can I get on:

    - American casino owners having to repay all the money they've earned online in the past

    - Antigua getting any settlement money, ever

    - Campaign contributions by gambling interests increasing sharply in the near future?

    1. Mark 85

      What odds can I get on:

      - American casino owners having to repay all the money they've earned online in the past

      Fat chance of that happening.

      - Antigua getting any settlement money, ever

      See answer above,

      - Campaign contributions by gambling interests increasing sharply in the near future?

      This is a definite yes....

      Given that fearless leader still has some interest in gambling establishments, if Congress puts this in a spending bill, it'll probably be signed off pretty quick. Hmmm.. might this be a ploy to pass a budget and end the shutdown???? The Bible belt may come into play though and try to fight it.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        "The Bible belt may come into play though and try to fight it."

        Evangelical Christians against gambling? You're having a laugh!

        It amuses me no end that if Jesus were alive today, these supposed "Christians" would be the ones he would be excoriating in his talks about pharisees. They champion the strong against the weak, have zero compassion for the downtrodden masses and poor immigrants, favour tax policies that allow the rich to get richer and give the poor the middle finger...

        The only truly 'religious' position they have is anti-abortion and even then some of them seem OK with physically attacking abortion clinics and their workers

        1. Chris Parsons

          If Jesus were alive today, they'd lynch him as a goddam hippy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If Jesus was alive today they would kill him for not looking white . Have you seen how American christian nutters are ?

        2. P. Lee

          The political group most keen on giving free stuff to people, engages in vitriol against Christians, tries to get their bakeries, cafes and B&B businesses shutdown; actively promotes as "good" sexual behaviour which they consider abhorrent, encourages the murder of unborn babies, which they find abhorrent; hounds them out of academia; suggests that there is nothing special about people in comparison with animals; tries to force them to employ people with whom they have ethical differences; tries to shutdown their ability to talk about the things they hold most dear; tries to drive all traces of their religion from the public sphere while encouraging competing religions.

          Surprisingly, when you wage a sustained cultural, political and legal campaign against a group, those people tend not give you support.

          "Give us your money and shut up" is a surprisingly unpopular stance.

          Yeah, I'm shocked too.

      2. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        "The Bible belt may come into play though and try to fight it."

        The same Bible Belt that overwhelmingly voted for The Fearless Leader? Don't count on it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What odds can I get on:

      Whatever odds you are getting, if you are getting them in USA get them in person. Not online.

      That is essential so that the relevant administration officials get the relevant emoluments and enticements from the MASSIVE state lottery and betting lobbies.

      This is just USA administration being quintessentially Russian - corrupt to the hilt and being quite open about it - the benefit usually goes to a family member.

  3. VikiAi

    No, you can't do that!

    Scamming the ignorant and the credulous out of their money is the government's job!

    1. Tom 35

      Re: No, you can't do that!

      Religions beg to differ!

      1. kain preacher

        Re: No, you can't do that!

        Cult leaders hold the patent on that

  4. jake Silver badge

    Easy answer:

    We are The House, we're not gambling.

    Neither are the suckers, even though they think they are.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

  5. DrStrangeLug

    Doesnt this outlaw Wall Street ?

    "Wagering on outcomes not related to sport."

    Like shorting or going long on stock ? That is definitely a wager, and under this law now illegal on the internet because you cant guarantee the transcation does not cross state lines.

    Make the perps serve the sentences consecutively and watch high frequency traders rack up a million year sentence in five minutes.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Doesnt this outlaw Wall Street ?

      "now illegal on the internet because you cant guarantee the transcation does not cross state lines."

      Given that high frequency traders have dedicated lines with shortest possible latency directly to the exchanges, I think they can guarantee it doesn't cross state lines.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Doesnt this outlaw Wall Street ?

        GP conflates two things. Shorting stock is not the same as high-frequency trading.

  6. WibbleMe

    LMAO used in the title, we are not 12 year olds

  7. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Another Lawyer payday inbound..

    Online gambling outfits -

    (1) Start operations (2) DoJ inform them it's ok (3) vacuum up vast amounts of $$$

    Then several years later DoJ changes opinion with what appears to be a blanket ban on all interstate gambling (speculation?). Common sense suggests that a Supreme court decision should appear before changing anything in the status quo but we know lawyers will happily drive a stake through that beating heart.

    See Title

  8. JulieM Silver badge


    I mean, speaking as a Briton, the whole idea of a ban on online gambling makes no sense.

    Just legalise it and use the tax money for something.

    1. The First Dave

      Re: Why?!

      Making money off gambling is clearly immoral; particularly when you are preying off the addicted.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Re: Why?!

        Tobacco and alcohol suddently spring to mind ..?

        1. Eddy Ito

          Re: Why?!

          Yes but - those are merely contemptible products that corrupt the mind of the people so by themselves they aren't immoral. It's the smoking and drinking that are immoral.

          Now if you'll excuse me I have to cash this multi-state lottery ticket and pick up some bourbon and cigars.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?!

      something something FREEDOM! something.

    3. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Why?!

      Gambling profits are tax free in the UK.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Re: Why?!

        Gambling gains surely, as opposed to profits made by the gambling house ?

        In northern America there are exemptions for the "first nations" but I was unaware of anything similar in the UK.

    4. NightFox

      Re: Why?!

      And the TV advertising for it will support at least a couple of dozen new freeview channels showing repeats of Bergerac and Murder She Wrote.

  9. Just An Engineer

    Considering this DOJ, I would assume the Giant Orange Pillock will be trying to get back into the Casino business, in the not too distant future, and wanted NO additional competition. Either on-shore or Off.

  10. Tom 35

    I wonder who requested they re-examine

    And did it come with a fat brown envelop?

  11. JohnFen

    In all fairness

    In all fairness, in the US anyway, prosecutors don't get to decide what is or is not legal.

  12. Someone Else Silver badge

    Wot it sez...

    The first clause bars anyone in the gambling business from knowingly using a wire communication facility to transmit “bets or wagers” or “information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest.” The second clause bars any such person from transmitting wire communications that entitle the recipient to “receive money or credit” either “as a result of bets or wagers” or “for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers.”

    So wire communications are out. I didn't see anything about wireless communications....

    Tee, hee, hee, heee...

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Wot it sez...

      Good catch, although I bet it doesn't work.

      But what is a "wire" anyway? Does that include fibre?

      1. The First Dave

        Re: Wot it sez...

        And does it include the ethernet cable into the server - why! yes it does!

  13. Al Pha

    Problem is, that if you can't pool accrued stakes across State lines, there's not enough liquidity to operate a viable online gambling business (see Powerball, etc).

    Core players provide most of the liquidity and the cohort of core online gamblers is pretty small - circa <20% of total players provide circa >80% of revenue.

    It's not like the State Lotto, where a large player base spend a couple of dollars a week; although Scratchcards similarly rely on a core player base as above.

  14. graceshen

    There are a lot of other illegal platforms to use. :)

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