It’s time for the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event of the year. Parties will be everywhere. Massive amounts of drinks, chips, and snacks will be consumed.
And tens of millions of dollars will be wagered through online gambling establishments across the country.
You may be tempted to be one of those people. After Deflate-gate, you might be thinking, the Patriots have lost an edge. They’ll be distracted. Or maybe that’s just what everyone thinks will happen, but really the Patriots are the Patriots. Or maybe . . .
But whatever your source of confidence in your pick, your next thought is probably something along the lines of Wait, isn’t this illegal or something? I don’t want to break the law. I’d better Google it.
And that’s when you get some conflicting legal advice from a bunch of shady companies hoping to make money off your bets. They generally give the impression that online gambling is not barred under federal law, so it depends on whether the state bans it or not. And if you look at Missouri law, yes, gambling is illegal, but not if you use their trusted, offshore gambling websites!
Because, apparently, being offshore is magic when it comes to betting (or any number of other otherwise illegal activities).
You will find a lot of sites like that, giving you some confidence that you can probably gamble online legally in Missouri. Great!
Wrong. In Missouri, gambling, possessing gambling devices, and other gambling activity is outlawed. Here’s the statute. Though it doesn’t expressly state anywhere that gambling “online” or “on the Internet” is illegal, it doesn’t have to. The language is already broad enough to encompass online betting:
[A] person engages in “gambling” when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.
Yep. That certainly sounds like placing a wager on a sporting event like the Super Bowl, regardless of whether it is done online or in-person. I don’t see an “offshore” loophole, either.
Just ask the Missouri Attorney General, Chris Koster:
Don’t be fooled by assurances from Internet gambling operators that it is legal to play online in Missouri. It is illegal for out-of-state gambling operations to offer Internet gambling to Missouri residents.
So there you have it, sports fans. You are probably breaking Missouri law if you place online bets on the Super Bowl. Your money isn’t the only thing you risk.