The debate rages on in America over the presiding practices of persecuting
punters and proprietors alike. Nothing gets the heartstrings pumping like
some bad press about the online gambling industry, and bad press is just
about all that gets pumped through mainstream media these days. At the
present it's not legal to place a bet at an offshore legalized gambling
establishment, and by legalized we mean legally licensed and board monitored.
There are, as many of us know, a good number of perfectly legitimate sites
offering betting services presently on the Internet, as they have been
for a couple of years now, but is what they're doing illegal?
Sensibly the answer to this question is invariably yes, until it varies.
The online casinos are offering legalized gambling according to the nature
and governing policies of the board that controls them. Where it gets
sticky is dealing with the location of the player, and whether or not
placing a bet is legal from both ends of the digital line. This is the
issue the United States has been grappling with. Due to an old wire act
prohibiting the placement of bets over telephone wires, there was a precedent
set that pretty much said Internet bets are also illegal. Now, Nevada
and the other legalized gambling areas of America are big business, not
to mention big tax producers for the government. If all of the gambling
done in America were to move to offshore company's profit sheets, it wouldn't
be an insignificant change. Vegas has already been hit hard enough by
the events of September 11th, and recovery wont be smooth sailing if everybody
knows they can gamble from their bedroom instead of hopping on a long
For all of these reasons and more (non-gambling advocates certainly aren't
fans of gambling moving in-house, so to speak) the American government
has taken the stance that it is illegal to place a bet from your computer.
So why is it half of the people you know from America have a favorite
online casino? Because they know, even though it's illegal, its kind of
like drinking underage, the police are after the barkeeps who serve the
kids more-so than the kids, and the American government probably isn't
going to bother chasing after little old me. This is a popular position
to take (ask your underage kids), and as such gambling online has become
a major hobby in the US. The government itself is actively trying to chase
down the proprietors of the online casinos responsible for taking bets
from Americans on American soil. This isn't an easy task for a government
who thinks they invented the Internet one minute, then turn around and
blame it for terrorist attacks the next; they simply don't have a good grasp
on technology. Now I'm not advocating you gamble online if you're from
the States, in fact I'm advocating that you don't!
There are some extended issues of course. The state of Nevada proposed
to have legalized gambling online from within the state. They won their
bid (pre Sept 11th) and many in the online gambling industry thought the
fuss may die down since Nevada would be able to compete with its own legalized
gambling, for the profits it would otherwise be losing to pre-established
online gaming destinations.
The debate rages on however as a common problem with Internet activity
has surfaced its head: the issue of anonymity. Las Vegas wants to begin
to take bets from people outside of the US, via the Internet. But how
to tell if someone logging on is coming from the US or from some other
part of the world? The technology to identify your IP address (your unique
identification number while online) and the originating location of that
IP address has existed for a very long time, but there has never been
a standard set, and so Nevada can't simply depend on an arbitrary implementation.
Once a standard does get set (and with Nevada pushing for it, it just
may happen sooner than later) the ball will get rolling.
There are many minds that currently think the future of Internet gambling
will be regulated much the same way alcohol is currently, state by state.