The legalities surrounding online gambling are pretty complex, particularly in the United States, which, ironically, is where the majority of online gamblers are based.
In 1997 the online gambling industry was reported to be worth approximately $300 million per year. In the same year a US Senator passed the ‘Internet Gambling Prohibition Act‘ with the objective to illegalize online gambling.
The Act cited four main reasons why online casino gambling legality is an issue:
- The potential to commit fraud over the Internet.
- The potential for underage gamblers to access online casinos.
- The potential for an increase in gambling addictions.
- The potential loss of taxable online gambling revenues by the respective States.
Many critics felt the fourth reason was the main reason behind the passing of the act, given that States are not able to tax online gamblers on their winnings, nor have the necessary resources to track online gamblers.
Today, the industry is worth well over $10 billion per year and most of the above reasons have become ‘non-issues’. For instance, the online gambling industry as a whole has dramatically improved and tightened the safety and security measures surrounding online casinos and online poker rooms. This means that fraud or potential for fraud is virtually non-existent.
The vast majority of online casinos have high-tech checks and systems in place to prevent underage gambling. There have also been no hard and fast studies or reports published to support the claim that online casino gambling has impacted gambling addiction.
The fourth reason, however, seems to be the main reason that online gambling remains such a contentious issue in the US. The government simply does not want to ‘kiss all those online gambling tax dollars goodbye’.
However, some States, such as North Dakota, have been pushing for legislation to be passed allowing all the States to govern themselves regarding online gambling.
Unfortunately, North Dakota’s efforts in this regard were quashed earlier this year. What this means is that online gambling is still effectively illegal in the US. However, this hasn’t stopped hundreds of thousands of American gamblers from gambling and winning online.
Regarding the rest of the world, casino gambling legality is also somewhat of a gray area. In the UK for example, gambling online is not legal but nor is it illegal.