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Can I go to jail for playing online casino games?

Some Oklahoma residents enjoy going out for a night at the gaming tables at one of the tribal casinos scattered around the state. However, with the proliferation of online gambling sites, they may be tempted to try their hand playing some online slots or other instant casino games.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reminds gamblers that cyber casino gambling is a violation of federal laws in America.

"Online gambling" is an umbrella term for various activities done over the internet that involve wagers. Examples of prohibited activities include:

  • Transferring funds electronically for the purpose of gambling
  • Soliciting bets online for company-run gambling sites
  • Making bets online for sports events or card games
  • Managing transactions for bettors in cyberspace
  • Gambling at cyber casinos based in foreign countries or offshore in international waters

Participating in fantasy sports leagues, playing free online games and visiting Indian gaming sites that don't meet the criteria of internet gambling are not forbidden under current federal laws.

When the FBI cracks down on these illegal activities, agents target owners of the cyber casinos rather than the casinos' customers.

Below are the main federal laws governing online gambling:

  • Wire fraud
  • Mail fraud - conspiracy and attempt
  • Broadcasting lottery information
  • Transmitting bets or wagers via wire communication

Unlike a few of the states, Oklahoma has no laws on its books prohibiting online betting. If charges are forthcoming for any illegal gambling activities, they will be handled by the federal courts.

While it would be unusual indeed for the federal government to start arresting any residents who placed cyber bets, whenever you participate in illegal activities, you put yourself at risk of prosecution. An Oklahoma criminal defense attorney can provide you with advice and counsel regarding your specific circumstances.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Online Gambling -- Don’t Roll the Dice," accessed Aug. 04, 2017

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