For residents of the United States, and many other parts of the world, gambling online is a bit of a legal grey areas. Technically, it is illegal in most of the U.S., but the conviction of individual players has proven extremely difficult because of the fact that they are gambling from home. It is illegal for a gambling website to operate within the United States, and to get around this, offices and servers of most online gambling sites are located in one of the roughly 70 countries that do allow online gambling sites.
Now here is where things get a little stranger. When you register at a gambling website, you are required to agree to the site’s terms and conditions. Those terms and conditions will put the onus on you to find out whether or not gambling is allowed where you live. You are also required to abide by the age limits set on gambling in your area of residence. If online gambling is illegal in your area and authorities are able to identify that you won money, those winnings could be forfeit.
When you take into account issues of jurisdiction and sovereignty, gambling laws get even more difficult to unravel. In the United States, the Wire Wager Act states that it is illegal to use an electronic wire method to transmit bets to places where gambling is not allowed. In other words, a gambling site in Australia is breaking the U.S. law if a player in the United States plays their games. However, the U.S. does not have legal authority to prosecute someone in another country. Players are almost never prosecuted, so what we have is an illegal activity that generally goes unpunished.
The one area where players are really at risk is if an online sportsbook or casino decided to cheat a player out of their winnings. If the player lives in an area where online gambling is not legal, that player would have no legal recourse against them to get their money. This is why it is important for online players to do their due diligence in researching online sportsbooks or casinos they are going to play with.