Online gambling is a hot topic in the United States. The federal government has been relatively aggressive in combating new developments in the industry. One of the most prominent laws was the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, which was intended to prohibit online gambling. While the bill did not pass in its current form, the federal government still continues to take a hard stance on the issue. It has even seized assets in a few online gaming cases.
However, the federal government’s tack has been criticized as well. In a nutshell, the Department of Justice attempted to interpret the Interstate Wire Act in such a way as to apply to all forms of Internet gambling. This attempt failed in court. Other opponents argue that the Act was an overreach that had no legal basis.
In addition to being a legal gray area, the topic is often muddled by a lack of empirical data and the question of whether or not online gambling can lead to a disordered mind. Many countries around the world have regulated or restricted Internet gambling, while others have a more laissez-faire approach. Despite this, the United States has been the pioneer of internet gambling, with the first online casinos and sports betting venues opening in Nevada and Pennsylvania in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Since then, the country has been catching up with the technological advances in the field. Several provinces and states in Canada have also legalized online gambling, allowing residents to place wagers on sports and games of chance.
However, the most interesting development in this area has been the evolution of legal gambling options. Currently, only a handful of online operators have introduced detection methods that can spot problematic gamblers. Moreover, a study from Australia compared at-risk gamblers to problem gamblers, and concluded that the latter group is more likely to exhibit health-related benefits attributed to online gambling.
Although the online gambling industry is growing, its health effects are not yet known. Some studies have suggested that the incidence of problems in internet gamblers is higher than those in land-based gamers, while others have found that it is no different. Nevertheless, a recent survey by the National Gambling Impact Study Center suggests that a majority of internet gamblers report the same level of risky behavior as their offline counterparts.
As with most things, regulation and enforcement should be considered a long-term process. A few sites have shared their data with researchers and the public at large, but more needs to be done to determine how Internet gambling affects gamblers and the communities in which they live.
Although there has been much debate over the merits of the various laws, one thing is certain: the federal government is not going to back down from its position on this front. If anything, the federal government has proven itself a shrewd politician by refusing to give up its quest to enforce existing gambling laws.
One of the most enduring arguments against Internet gambling is that it is unregulated. There have been several cases of financial transactions taking place in the United States that have involved illegal offshore gambling agreements, which may constitute a form of aiding and abetting.