What is Gaming and Gaming Law?
Gaming refers to any activity that involves betting and making wagers. Casino gambling, for instance, is what likely comes to mind, and it is a big part of gaming. Casino gambling is just one of many types of gaming. Gaming and the laws that govern it includes:
- Sports and e-sports betting
- Online betting
- Tribal casinos
- Racetrack betting
- Fantasy sports leagues
- Poker tournaments
Gaming laws regulate the business of gambling. Each state determines if gambling is legal and in which forms. For instance, most states have a lottery, but only a few allow casinos, and more states are allowing legal sports betting.
The federal government has authority through the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to regulate some types of gaming. For instance, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act established the National Indian Gaming Commission and regulates casinos and other types of gambling on tribal lands. Another federal law prohibits online gambling.
What is a Gaming Lawyer?
Gaming lawyers specialize in gaming law and represent gaming owners and operators. This includes individuals, large companies, and Native American tribes. They may also work with state government gaming regulatory agencies or for the National Indian Gaming Commission.
In addition to the laws that regulate gaming, several other areas of the law impact gambling activities. Gaming lawyers also have expertise in these areas:
- Real estate law
- Zoning law
- Tax law
- Business law
- Contract law
- Administrative law
- Employment and labor law
- Criminal law
What Do Gaming Lawyers Do?
Most gaming lawyers advise and represent the owners and operators of casinos and other gambling operations. They help their clients comply with state and federal laws and gaming regulations and also assist with issues as they arise. Some examples of what they do for clients include:
- Acquiring the necessary licenses for an operation or game
- Assisting with findings of suitability and gaining approval for an operation
- Staying up to date on regulations and laws and maintaining compliance
- Completing required auditing and reporting
- Resolving disputes with employees or unions
- Buying new property and adhering to zoning laws
- Challenging zoning laws
- Complying with tax laws
- Using credit and collecting debts
- Litigating in gaming and business disputes
- Advising on corporate structuring
- Protecting intellectual property
- Negotiating agreements and contracts
- Meeting with regulatory agencies
Who Needs a Gaming Lawyer?
Anyone operating in the gaming industry needs a gaming lawyer or law firm. It’s important to have legal advice from the start of a gaming business. The laws and regulations are complicated and change often. Not complying can be costly or even result in jail time.
If you own or operate, or are thinking of starting, a gambling business, operation, or event, you need a lawyer with gaming expertise. You can also benefit from a lawyer in certain situations:
- You need to get a license for your gaming operation.
- You’ve tried to get a license and come up against some roadblocks.
- You are planning a sweepstakes type of contest.
- You operate a gaming business and have specific legal issues, such as employment disputes or a breach of contract.
- You’re trying to open or expand a facility and have zoning issues.
- A government agency has found you in violation of one or more regulations.
What Are the Benefits of Working with a Gaming Lawyer?
A gaming lawyer can do many things for their clients, from providing advice to litigating in court. You can try to operate or start a gaming business without a lawyer, but there are many benefits to having a gaming lawyer representing you from the beginning:
- Get clarity on complex laws
If you’re involved in gaming, you need to know the laws and regulations that apply at both the federal and state levels. The regulations are complicated and change often. A lawyer can explain them and ensure you understand your legal obligations as a business.
- Avoid fines
The penalties for violating gaming laws and regulations can get expensive. You can even lose your business, depending on the violations. A lawyer will help you stay in compliance and save money and your business.
- Resolve disputes
Many disputes can arise in a gaming business, from employment and union contracts to zoning issues and problems with other gaming operations. A lawyer will help you resolve those disputes with your best interests in mind.
- Develop a successful business
Gaming can be lucrative, but it’s a business that can also go wrong and cost you. To start and grow a successful gaming or gambling business, you need a legal expert guiding your decisions.
How to Find a Gaming Lawyer
If you operate in a state or area with a lot of gaming—Nevada or Atlantic City in New Jersey, for instance—it won’t be difficult to find an attorney or firm advertising gaming services. In these areas, you should be able to find someone who only works with gaming clients. These lawyers have the right expertise and experience to represent and advise you.
In other areas, you may only be able to find a firm that devotes some of its caseload to gaming. If this is the case, be sure to ask about their experience:
- How many gaming clients have you worked with or represented?
- How long have you handled gaming cases?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to gaming?
- Have you worked with any clients similar to me or my business?
- What types of successes have you had with past gaming clients?
- Can you provide references from past gaming clients?
Choose the lawyer or firm with experience working in gaming law. They should be able to handle all areas of the law that arise in a gaming business, from gaming regulations to real estate and labor laws. They should also have the time and resources to take you on fully and have reasonable fees you can afford.
Gaming lawyers are experts in all laws related to gambling. They work with clients to provide advice, guidance, and legal representation. With a gaming lawyer by your side, your gambling business is much more likely to be successful and to avoid pitfalls.