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LEGALIZED GAMBLING

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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 flight.

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.


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