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Legal Responsibilities Of Online Players

By: Joan Peppin, Thursday February 19th 2009
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The UIGEA is in the news every second day. In addition there have been quite a few high profile cases of late, like the Kentucky domain name seizure case, that put question marks on the legality of online gambling. Hence it is natural for online players to have concerns on whether there can be any legal repercussions on them. Therefore some clarifications are in order.

First of all it is clear beyond any doubt that these laws are targeted at the online gambling operators and those that provide services to them. If anyone is violating the laws it is those who offer the services of online gambling and not those who use them. Though players may be inconvenienced if the online gambling operators are closed down and may even lose their deposits with the casinos, the players cannot be prosecuted under law for just playing online. If they violate other laws while playing online then it is a different issue. For example if they are using funds obtained from illegal sources or if they have tried to defraud the online casino then they can be held accountable under the relevant laws.

Having said that, it is essential to mention that there are certain responsibilities that players have to fulfill that are of a quasi legal nature. All online casinos explain these responsibilities in their "Terms and Conditions", which are mandatory for players to read. The players must have attained the age of majority as defined in the legal jurisdiction in which they are residing. All online casinos have strong policies against underage gambling. Law requires them to take all possible steps to prevent underage gambling. Therefore they ask for certain documents and details from players and have them independently verified. If they find that the player is under age and has given incorrect details then they can take a number of steps. They will definitely debar the player. They can hold on to the funds he has with the casino and can even circulate his details to other casinos to prevent him from playing there.

The second major responsibility of the players is to ensure that it is not illegal to gamble online in the legal jurisdiction in which they are residing. In most countries there will be no prosecution of the players involved even if online gambling is illegal. But it could become difficult for the online casino to remit funds to players in such areas, particularly if banks are involved. Banks may refuse to accept funds from online casino transactions. Hence such players are risking not being able to withdraw their winnings if they are dependent on conventional financial channels. Also there is the risk of the online casino being closed for them by the law. Players should find out what the position is in the place of their residence and then take a considered decision on whether they should gamble online or not.

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