The Small Games of Chance Act allows specific forms of gambling, such as horse racing, bingo, and lotteries. Even the generally permissible types still require either a proper legal authority or a license. Accordingly, all games of chance, which are not specifically mentioned in the statute as legal, raise questions as to their compliance with the law.
It is, however, important to note that rules on gambling vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction. What is considered unlawful in one place, might be encouraged by official authorities by tax incentives in another. At the same time, the common violation, regardless of the jurisdiction, is operating without a license or other type of authorization from the state.
Some gambling activities are illegal regardless of the existence of permission. For instance, games that involve animal injury or death are commonly prohibited. Animal fighting is cruel and unsafe, so that cock fights and dog fights are considered unlawful regardless of who is in charge of organizing them. At the same time, racing is generally not treated as unsafe or cruel by the law and, thus, it is permissible to organize horse or dog racing.
Electronic games of chance are mostly forbidden in the United States. The prohibition includes Internet gambling, slot machines, video poker, pachinko and Pachislo machines. There is a common exemption with regard to slot machines: if it is considered ‘old’ by law and played at no cost and not for gambling purposes, it might be lawful to own it. Another illegal type is bookmaking, that is taking bet or wagers on the result of a future event (often related to sports or performance competitions).
Violating gambling rules, especially practicing forbidden activities, can amount to a felony. Illegal gambling can lead to Class B or Class C felonies meaning spending up to 10 years in prison. Some other gambling-related crimes can be considered misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 1 year in prison.