|disclaimer - this article is about whether or not
online slot machines are legal - we are not lawyers, and
this article is here for entertainment and educational
purposes only. please consult professional legal counsel if
you have legal questions, and if gambling is illegal where
you live, don't do it.
Are Online Slot Machines Legal?
by Charles Bogart
The Internet is intimidating.
Most people use it for simple transactions - email, news, perhaps an online auction or two. Everyone has concerns about user security, even if they don't spend money or bank online. People are concerned about cookies, viruses and worms, spyware, adware, malware, every kind of ware imaginable.
Some people don't believe that it is both safe and legal to play games of skill online. The key is to know the law, to verify the site you are gaming on, and to know what options you have as a consumer when you wish to take part in any online gaming activity. Regardless of if you play poker at Full Tilt, slots at Party Poker, or casino games at 888, it is imperative that you know all your options for transacting money - remember, especially in gaming, that knowledge is power. There are plenty of great placed where you can play slots for free and many online casinos let you play for money. Before wagering at any casino on the web you should look into its software and reserach for any public complaints that might exisit.
Are Online Slots Legal?
There are two contingencies to deal with in the United States when considering the legality of online gaming, Federal law and state law - one of which supersedes the other in certain instances. Gaming and gambling in the United States have undergone a huge recent boom. During the past decade most states have expanded their concept of legalized gaming, including regulated casino-style games, lotteries, and often video poker machines.
There has been an explosion in the number of openings of Native American casinos, and the amount of gambling and betting online has increased literally exponentially.
UIGEA and Online Slot Machines
The recent UIGEA act, passed and enacted into law in 2006, does not ban or penalize merely participating in online gaming. This is a myth floating about on the internet, and it's untrue. The act states quite clearly that a bet is defined as "the staking . . . of property in order to win something . . . based on a sporting event or a game of chance . . ." paving the way for legal gaming involving games of skill - this covers most if not all casino gaming. Explicitly banned are bets placed on sporting events or any kind of web-based lottery.
The new law only truly applies to online gambling operators who violate existing state or federal anti-gambling laws. The act has no teeth as far as general online gaming is concerned. Some writers on gaming have in fact concluded that since there are only a few states which expressly ban Internet gambling, and because good laws were already on the books at the Federal level, this act was something of a do-nothing law.
The larger take on this is that all of the online gambling sports books violate existing anti-gambling laws of every one of the fifty states, while mere online gaming has gone under the radar, so to speak, of the Federal government.
Basically, you should have no fear of participating in legal gaming at a registered and legal site, using legal methods and clean money. It is only when you cross the line into the sports book world that you should be concerned as a gambler.
And of course, it probably goes without saying, but playing free online slot machine games just for fun is almost certainly legal.
Online Slot Machines - Deposit Methods
You can pay for your gaming online using credit cards, debit cards, pre paid cards, and there are still other methods - wire transactions, Western Union, etc. Each method has its pros and cons, and some may occasionally be more legal than others.
Here's an overview.
Credit cards are by far the most popular form of online payment, gaming or otherwise. About half of all online gamers utilize a credit card to fund their gaming. Credit cards behave differently than debit cards in that money is not removed from the user's account post-transaction, and generally the balance of the card does not have to be paid in full each month. Instead, credit cards lend money to the consumer, with the option of "revolving" their balance at the cost of interest penalties.
Paying with credit cards online is popular and widespread enough for it to be considered safe. Most online casinos use a system known as TLS/SSL or Transport Layer Security, which encrypts the customer's card numbers and protects the casino's clients as well as can be expected. Using credit cards with fraud protection also provides customers with peace of mind, and since major credit cards companies reimburse their clients if they have been victims of fraud, this is a generally safe method to use.
Similar to writing a check, using a debit card is seen as a more secure way to pay online, since the money for each transaction is withdrawn directly from the cardholder's bank account at the time of the transaction. This makes payment more easily trackable. As for performance online, since the debits are instantly reflected in the user's account and most bank accounts are viewable online, it makes sense to combine the best of both worlds and use your online bank account system to track and secure your online payments. To top it off, PIN numbers are required for every transaction you make, adding a layer to the already tight security of the major debit card companies.
Registering for a digital wallet requires minimal setup and the feature itself is quite easy to use. Many companies offer an e-wallet or digital wallet service - these digital wallets perform like internet-only bank accounts, and in many cases support features like Direct Deposit once only supported by a physical bank. Once the software is installed, the account is password protected and prevents unauthorized users from viewing your personal information stored on your computer.
Using digital wallets is more convenient than other forms of payments - you're gaming online and your money is accessible online -- and in most cases, a digital wallet is safer due to the centering of the user's account at a single company like Paypal. All you have to do is know your user name (usually your email address) and your password, and you can start buying or even selling on most major websites, including online casinos. Several of these digital wallets have become very popular or are growing in popularity, and are secure as well as accepted by most online casinos.
A well known digital wallet company which has been around for almost a decade. Many online casinos offer specific bonuses for players using Neteller. This is a friendly and easy to use service, and as a bonus, signing up for an account is free. The company deals primarily with online gambling sites, though there are many users who will never set foot (or mouse) near a gaming page. Neteller was relatively small until PayPal stopped accepting gambling-related transactions in 2002. Neteller is regularly accepted by virtually all online gaming sites and is considered safe and efficient.
Please note that NETeller is no longer an option for USA based players.
Moneybookers is one of the larger online-payment services in the world. The UK-based company limits transfers received by accounts to just a few thousand dollars -- as a security measure. Unlike many other online money transfer services, Moneybookers requires ID verification before a user can take advantage of their services. This is a good feature which minimizes fraud and prevents cases of money laundering. Featuring more than 2 million users and growing, Moneybooker is widely accepted as quite safe to use.
ClickandBuy is, along with Moneybooker, one of the most popular e-wallets in the market today. Besides many gambling sites, you can use ClickandBuy for various services from companies like Apple (think Apple iTunes) Skype, NBC, msn and more. The company was founded in 2000, but is well established and has created a partnership with Intel. A worldwide company, ClickandBuy is challenging the rule of Moneybooker and Paypal.
Prepaid credit cards
Prepaid credit cards, similar in operation to credit and debit cards mentioned earlier, offer a convenient way to avoid issues of credit card debt while still enjoying the flexibility of credit cards. By using a prepaid card, a player can control exactly how much money they are willing to allow for gaming, which also makes this a safer method of payment than a credit or debit card. With a prepaid card, even if your information is stolen and duplicated, the thief has access only to what money is present on the card.
Paysafe is one popular vendor: this company, which was the first ever Secure Electronic Payment System for Credit Cards over the Internet, is astoundingly popular all over the world. The site's security is guaranteed -- your PIN code and password are confidential and transactions take place over their secure PaySafe server. Deposits by Paysafe are made free of any charge. Paysafe cards, less popular and prevalent in America, are readily available for purchase in a wide range of stores and shops in Europe.
A Wire transfer is an electronic bank transfer from one bank account to another. Like you see in the movies, wire transfers can be done by a simple bank account transfer or by a transfer of cash at a cash office usually found in grocery or retail store environments. Wire transfer is a safe electronic transfer of funds, and there is no need for a credit card for any transaction made through the wire.
A popular provider of wire transfers nationwide is Western Union. This is one of the largest companies in electronic funds. They offer wire transfers in place of their once-popular telegram service. Western Union's money transfer services can be used from their website or from any of their 100,000 agencies found worldwide. A nominal fee is charged for each transaction, usually between 20 and 40 dollars.
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