The Growing World of Online Gambling
Although gambling is illegal in many countries, online gaming is allowed in some states and provinces in Canada. Most countries in the European Union and the Caribbean are free from restrictions regarding online gambling. However, in many of these markets, such as the United Kingdom and California, online gambling service providers must obtain a license from a regulatory authority. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission and Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board are two such regulatory authorities. Online gambling is not legal in some countries, including the United States, and may be illegal in your jurisdiction.
The growth of online gambling is phenomenal. In 1997, about fifty to sixty internet casinos operated in the Caribbean region, earning between $300 million and $350 million annually. By 2000, there were approximately 700 such sites. These sites are now one of the fastest growing industries in the world, providing fun and entertainment for millions of people worldwide. While some games require downloads, others are played directly from the Web site. The latest technologies enable high-tech software to offer a virtual reality experience and to allow users to interact online with other players.
The World Trade Organization is a global organization that sets up and enforces trading agreements among its members. In 2004, Antigua and Barbuda filed a complaint against the United States, claiming that the industry was destroying thousands of jobs and damaging its economy. The WTO ruled against the United States in 2004, finding that U.S. laws against online gambling violate international trade agreements. The European Union has also considered filing a complaint against the United States, arguing that online gambling is unfair.
Depositing money can be as easy as depositing a few dollars or euros into an account. Many online casinos offer a welcome bonus of 5% to 20% of the total of the initial deposit, and then require the player to wager that amount two to three times before withdrawing the money. Some sites also offer prizes to repeat customers. Winnings are usually deposited into the user’s account, or the winner receives a certified check in the mail.
The Internet is a crucial component for online gambling. However, there are a number of technical requirements that online gambling sites must meet. The first requirement is an Internet connection. A computer or laptop with an internet connection is required to access the gambling site. However, the major credit card issuers have also begun to block payments made to online gambling sites. This could result in increased fraud or other criminal activity. Therefore, the legality of online gambling is under a threat.
Regardless of the legality of the wager, a federal law, known as the Wire Act, prohibits the use of telephone lines for wagering. This law only applies to gambling businesses. However, the internet was not even around at the time the act was enacted. Therefore, offshore gambling websites do not fall under this act, because they are not under U.S. jurisdiction. The Wire Act also does not apply to the transmission of information through mobile phones and satellites.