What constitutes gambling? For many people the question of what constitutes gambling evokes images of slot machines or video poker machines at online casinos. While these images are certainly fascinating and can provide excitement for the avid gambler, the reality is that virtually all forms of gambling involve at least some degree of chance.
Slot machines are a classic example of what constitutes gambling. These machines are designed to produce a random outcome. Although no real money ever changes hands (no matter how much a player may bet), the slot player knows that if she hits “yes” she will receive something free (usually a dollar bill). There is always the chance that the machine will produce the amount she bet on, but if she misses, she has nothing to show for her effort. It is this factor that makes slot machines almost a textbook definition of what constitutes gambling.
Online gambling law differs with regard to the amount that a player may win. In most cases, however, a player can expect to win a small percentage of one’s wagers. This is the equivalent of winning a video slot machine at your local casino. While the amount you can win in an online casino cannot be compared with the payout of a machine at a brick and mortar casino, there are some analogies that might be drawn.
A “swing” in the definition of what constitutes gambling is not necessarily a loss. One might view a “swing” as the equivalent of a jackpot prize in a traditional casino. The difference is that the casino pays out the prize in exact proportion to each of the players’ bets. Each time a player places a bet, the casino deducts the amount from the final outcome of the bet. So while it may seem that the casino is taking a “swing” in the definition, the payout is more accurately called a “stay”.
In the states of United States and Canada, the law clearly defines what gambling is. Video games have become a part of the lives of people across the world. It is also considered by the United States Gambling Enforcement Agency (GAIA) to include any electronic device used to play any type of electronic game. As with all other types of gambling laws, the laws regarding video games are very specific.
These federal gambling statutes were created and placed in place by the United States Congress. All video games, computer gambling, slot machines and poker machines are included in the federal gambling statues. The U.S. Department of Justice has ultimate authority over any crime that falls within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Any activity that violates U.S. Federal law is considered illegal gambling activity.
While the laws regarding what constitutes gambling differ among the states, they do follow some basic guidelines. The amount of cash or prizes won, whether the wager was made with actual cash or with a credit card or debit card, and whether the wager was placed at an authorized online gaming establishment, are the key factors that determine if the activity constitutes gambling. Other factors that determine if online gambling is legal to include the amount of money wagered or won and the type of gaming: live, online poker or bingo, etc.
As you can see, there are many gray areas when it comes to what gambling is and what is not. The important thing is to be completely aware that when placing a bet, you are wagering a valuable asset and anything that affect that value, such as property, can and does constitute a violation of federal law. This includes all forms of gambling at land-based casinos, video game casinos, online gambling, horse betting, sports betting, and race betting. If you have questions about what constitutes gambling, consulting a licensed attorney can help. If you are arrested for breaking any of the laws concerning what is not gambling, contact a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.