While online gambling may be illegal in the United States as a whole, North Carolina may have found a loophole that allows certain forms to be played in the State.
There is one small catch and that’s in the certain limitations that must be imposed. The main one of these is that while players playing online video games and slots games in Internet cafes and similar gaming parlours may play without fear of breaking the law, they cannot play for cash based prizes. A prominent judge in the State has ordered the authorities not to interfere with those businesses as long as they only offer prizes such as incentives like free phone or computer time etc. This way they do not break any laws and may continue providing the service to their customers.
This means that law specific to the state continue to treat slots or video poker played for cash as illegal. However, regulations regarding computers that are used for gambling purposes are in what is described as a grey zone, meaning specific clarification is needed to enable the laws to become effective. Until this comes about, the authorities have been instructed not to interfere, bearing in mind that the situation is temporary until those laws become definitive.
Gambling operators recently sued the North Carolina government over the rights allowing tribal casinos to provide online video poker. They stated that State laws violated Federal laws put in place for tribal casinos.
The Internet café owners are happy with the present status and hope to profit from the relaxation of the laws as more customers make use of their services knowing they are free from the spectre of prosecution. They are able to offer prizes in place of cash winnings that may be redeemed for certain gifts or services.
John Henning Jr., who is attorney for the North Carolina town of Franklin said that for the moment at least, it is legal to operate such games. The ruling is likely to be short lived however. In other states such as Florida and Texas, local officials are still hesitant to exploit this loophole in current laws. They will continue to target businesses that offer these services and confiscate equipment such as computers if they suspect they are being used for gambling online. This is due to Federal laws being interpreted differently state by state and us unlikely to change until the regulation of online gambling is instigated at federal level.