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Online gambling is an addictive and expensive pastime. Foreign Web sites operate virtual "casinos" where gamblers can bet and play in a variety of games. Currently, there are no clear limits or laws that apply to online gambling.

Is it illegal to gamble online?

Maybe. There is no federal law that makes gambling online illegal. Federal gambling laws only make placing bets over the telephone illegal by virtue of the Wire Act. Recent court cases have held that the Wire Act does not apply to Internet non-sport gambling. If gambling is illegal in your state, except for businesses authorized by state authorities, it is illegal on your computer. For example, if betting on horse races is illegal where you live, you cannot use your computer to place bets on races in another state.

Sidebar: It is possible that state laws could apply to online gambling and betters could be prosecuted; however, it is an unlikely possibility since online gambling occurs in the privacy of your home.

Sidebar: It is illegal for children to gamble. Every state prohibits gambling by minors. Thus, Internet gambling is illegal for minors.

Sidebar: Although gambling is not regulated over the Internet, no one may operate a gambling enterprise (including an Internet casino) without a license. Most Internet gambling sites are based in other countries such as Antigua, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Costa Rica.