As more states ponder online gambling legislation, the current wave of reinforcing existing regulations took a shift towards the import-export sector. In an unexpected turn of events, the gambling authorities identified that operators within the gambling industry were exploiting loopholes within the law to participate in actions that amount to illegality. While investigating an imports case, the team discovered that part of the slot machines, blackjacks, pokies, roulette tables, chips and dices used within the city were imported from other countries.
According to the official report from the CIID (Customs Intelligence Investigation Department), airport customs officials had cleared six concierges between 2016 and 2018. The containers had various gambling equipment, gambling chips, slot machines, and roulette tables, among other pokie products. After authorities found these products within multiple venues in the city, the CIID began to look into how gambling products were imported.
The gambling authorities claim that clearing such merchandise was in direct violation of the law. However, the customs house insists that no provision in the law prohibits importing gambling product such as pokies, slot machines, and chips. This put more pressure on legislatures to fix loopholes within the current gambling and import laws. The US constitution leaves it to states to “adopt effective measures to prevent prostitution and gambling.”
However, the 152-year old rule does not offer any umbrella legislature as a guide. The Import Policy Order (IPO) of 2015 – 2018 provides general guidelines, but there are various cracks that operators can exploit.
Two lawyers termed the action (clearing imported gambling equipment) as illegal and in violation of existing import regulations and gambling legislation. Gambling laws keep evolving with new opportunities and technologies. States like Nevada and New Jersey allow online gambling platforms while countries like South Australia already have policies to allow pokies that accept banknotes. These new changes and opportunities come with overlaps that make it easy for non-compliant operators to juggle the law.
“Is it legal to import gambling materials in the US?” This is the big question CIID officials sought to resolve. Custom officials at Dhaka Airport released imported gambling chips back in 2016. The merchandise, imported through AM Islam & Sons entered the US after implementation of the Import Policy Order. Authorities were also investigating whether the equipment was imported following other regulations in the trade industry, including anti-laundering laws. According to the official statement from the investigation officials, gambling equipment was mainly imported from China and Japan. Police officers were also looking for the documents used to facilitate the clearance of the equipment.
As it stands, the constitution and IPO prohibit various gambling activities. Many states prohibit online pokie machines and even deny entry to companies found co-operating with illegal operators. However, the law on importing gambling equipment remains ambiguous. Lawyers can argue it in court and exploit loopholes that fail to categorize what amounts to illegal action. Like what is “in the books” in local gambling houses, there is need for clear legislation concerning importing gambling products and its equivalent in virtual digital platforms.