If you're looking to make an attempt to win some extra cash this is one of the first questions you'll want to be asking. And the answer is not always straightforward. Whether online gambling is legal in the jurisdiction in which you live determines whether you even have the chance to make a start. It's definitely worth spending some time researching the answer that's going to be relevant to you and where you live.......
We talk a lot about betting or gambling here on Winmoney101.com. Clearly that's because many of the ways to try and win mean you need to gamble some of your own. The exceptions as we've seen are in free to enter cash competitions and sweepstakes.
One question many of us need to give some thought to is - is betting to win money legal?
The answer varies - mainly depending on where you live, and of course on how old you are. And on the type of gambling or betting that's involved
In the US, Canada, and Australia it's unclear. Though in some US states it definitely is now, as long as you play with specific gambling operators actually licensed in those states. The states where it is legal include Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. The US online gambling page explores the current position in more detail.
The situation in the US is changing further still - slowly but surely other states are making gambling within their borders legal. Obviously you do need to be of legal age though, even in the states where it's possible.
That step to legalize forms of gambling online in those states was taken because there's a lot of money involved, and the taxes any jurisdiction can collect from legalized gambling could be substantial. For this reason, it's highly likely that the betting landscape will change in various countries in future. Most governments recognise that the income they could receive from taxation of regulated gambling could be valuable to their bottom line. Plus of course the fact that regulation can act to weed out some of those unscrupulous and illegal operators.
One of those changes in the US may eventually allow those operators that can only provide services from within specific US states to open up and work on an interstate or even global/international basis. Legislation is in the early stages of introduction to try and make this happen for New Jersey. The bill that's being worked on for this, bill number 980, has a way to go and needs to get Senate and General Assembly approval followed by the signature of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie before it will become law. But for Delaware and Nevada poker players it's a concrete possibility with 888Poker sitting ready to take advantage of interstate poker agreements.
Actually, in the US, it's depositing money in other states that's the biggest problem. There are federal laws which prohibit banking institutions from transactions involving betting sites.
The picture is complicated further still because some of our ways to win money are considered to be legal in the US (in many states at least, but not all). Regulations do allow for skill based contests to be considered legal - which brings in the possibility for US residents (and of course residents of other countries around the world) to play games of skill for cash prizes, and in fact a number of cash contest video games.
It remains to be seen just how successful legalized online gambling in the US turns out to be - there are some casino moguls like Steve Wynn who are holding back from getting involved because they don't feel the profits in it from a good business perspective are strong enough. Other big operators like Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts are driving hard for a piece of the pie.
Generally - as a casino or poker player - you're extremely unlikely to get arrested if you do get involved, the authorities are more concerned with operators rather than individuals. I've never seen any cases where individuals have been targeted, and there are many casino operators in particular who do serve US customers.
In countries like the UK, gambling is well regulated and there are no legal concerns. In fact it's very well controlled, with many rules around which operators are authorized to provide services. They're strictly monitored too.
Of course, if you do decide that you'd like to deposit money with any gambling organization, be it for poker, casino, sports-betting, or anything else, then check your own local laws and regulations before signing up. One big event in summer of 2014 - the football World Cup - is attracting thousands of new bettors, many of whom will face this legality question. For many of those it won't be a problem, and there will be plenty of opportunities for betting profits, more likely from the new burst of interest recently in Asian Handicap betting.
But very soon you may not have to worry. The barriers are being broken down and everyone wants their cut. From sportsbetting to poker to casino games. The regulatory bodies in different countries want their tax, the online operators want more profits, social network operators like Zynga and Facebook are well placed to increase their social play options and advance into real money markets, and the land based casinos are building their own online presence.
The betting world is fast heading towards a point where online gambling is legal in many more places than it is now. Hopefully we'll all be in a position to take advantage at some point!
For now, if you do reside in a country where you can't safely play, perhaps the best option for you is in social gaming. One operator who are growing rapidly in this field is Pureplay Poker. The name is a bit of a misnomer, because you can actually play casino gambling games with them too. All perfectly legal, even all over the US. Pureplay also offer free to play slots tournaments on their website.
If you're somewhere where there definitely are no restrictions to gambling online, then the advice is....fill your boots!! There are plenty of opportunities. Maybe you'll like playing Bejeweled for money games, maybe you're more comfortable looking for that slice of luck in casino games.
Whatever it is, be careful. We know that betting or gambling to win money can have its pitfalls for the unwary punter. Take care, gamble wisely. Only bet what you can afford to lose. Read the winmoney101.com responsible gaming page for advice on how to control gambling.
The video below was published early in 2014, and focuses on the debate around whether gambling should be legal, and the problems it might or might not cause. It's centered on the position in the US, though the points that are made can arguably be valid for any country of the world.
Youtube has an 'is online gambling legal' channel where there are plenty of other videos on the subject too, including a number focused on the questions surrounding legality of betting in different speficis states.
Is Online Gambling Legal?