Internet Gambling Laws – US, UK and the World

Legal minds turned to Internet gambling laws as a specialty when the industry went beyond growth and exploded into the public mind. “The law surrounding Internet gambling in the United States has been murky, to say the least,” according to Lawrence G. Walters, one of the attorneys working with gameattorneys.com.

In contrast, Internet gambling laws in the U.K. have made the lives of providers and players a bit easier. The passage of the Gambling Act of 2005 has basically legalized and regulated online play in the U.K.

With the objectives of keeping gambling from promoting “crime or disorder” the U.K. act attempts to keep gambling fair, in addition to protecting younger citizens and others who may be victimized by gambling operation. Unlike the United States, which still clings to the 1961 Wire Wager Act, the U.K. significantly relaxed regulations that are decades old. A gambling commission was established to enforce the code and license operators.

A Whole Other Country

According to Walters and many other observers of the Internet gambling laws scene, the United States Department of Justice continues to view all gambling on the Internet as illegal under the Wire Act. But there are details in the federal law that defy attempts to throw a blanket over all online gambling.

The Wire Wager Act forms the basis for federal action on Internet gambling laws in the United States. The law was meant to complement and support laws in the various states, focusing primarily on “being engaged in the business of betting or wagering” using wire communication to place bets or wagers on sporting events or similar contests. The law also comments on receiving money or credit that results from such a wager. The keys are “business,” “money or credit” and “wire communication facility.”

But as many attorneys and proponents of fair Internet gambling laws emphasize, the federal law does not specifically address other forms of gambling. This has left the law open to interpretation when it comes to online casinos specifically and using the World Wide Web to play online games.

October 13, 2006 is a crucial date in the controversy surrounding the legalization of gambling. For anyone wishing to understand Internet gambling laws, the federal law passed on that day is essential knowledge. President George W. Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which is intended to limit some “financial transactions” used for online gambling.

But even if current federal gambling laws can clearly define something as simple as a legal gambling age, the newer UIGEA has not settled all the dust raised around the issue of online gambling. Attorneys such as Walters (and many others) have pointed out that the UIGEA seems to refer only to financial transactions and wagers that are illegal where the wager or transaction is made. Some wagers may be legal while others may not be legal. It’s as simple as that.

The UIGEA had some effect on Internet gambling, in that many successful companies got out of the business, at least in the United States. In fact, with the passage of the law in 2006, most U.S. online players found they could not play at an online casino or poker room, for a short time. Many of the gambling providers found ways to establish offices and servers outside of the U.S. so that could invite United States players back in.

Break Time

It’s now time to stop, take a deep breath and turn to Internet gambling laws in the various states. Some have passed their own rules and regulations (before and after UIGEA). In a few states, companies cannot operate an online gambling business. In other states it is illegal for an individual to place a bet using the Web. Some legal experts argue that these individual-state rules are unconstitutional since commerce across state lines should only be regulated by federal law, not state law. Commercial online gambling businesses don’t operate in the United States, however. If you want to visit their “home offices” you may have to travel to Malta, Gibraltar or Curacoa.

The 2005 U.K. law generally allows remote sites such as these. The rules are not so relaxed in the U.S. However, a recent appellate court ruling in the U.S. states that, in at least one case, an Web-based gambling site did not violate states laws. Most legal minds urge gamblers and others interested in the issue to stay tuned.

Some have given their attention to finding benefits of legalized gambling, noting that this huge industry might be a key to economic recovery in the United States. At the heart of their argument are examples such as established lotteries run by various states, in addition to the government revenues that flow in to state coffers from riverboats and land-based casinos.

Part of this effort rests on the shoulders of more than 100 legal representatives working for common sense in Internet gambling laws. This hoard of attorneys has the task of trying to keep the World Wide Web/Internet free from government intervention.

Bob Ciaffone is considered one of the experts on the subject of gambling and poker in general, and on the transition to online gambling. He suggests that any regulation of Web-based gambling should reduce competition from outside the U.S., so that the citizens of the U.S. would benefit in legal gambling states. His detailed plan would parallel the U.K. situation since that country passed its 2005 rules. Ciaffone also strongly urges U.S. lawmakers to keep Internet gambling laws separate from the 40-year-old Wire Act, which was passed to control illegal gambling over the telephone.

In essence, Ciaffone writes that the UIGEA attempted to do the right thing, but does it in all the wrong ways. The restrictions have severely handicapped what could be a great revenue source with proper regulation, according to Ciaffone.

Consider a statement on the UIGEA from the most-recognizable poker player in the world, Doyle Brunson. Though is comments apply to his favorite game of poker, they can easily relate to all Internet gambling laws. He said, in essence, that his company received good legal advice that indicates Internet poker is not “expressly” illegal. He encourages U.S. players to learn the laws of their own state.

Online Gambling Problems

The advances in broadband and wireless technology have made the world come together closer than never before. Now virtually everything is possible on the net-shopping, clinching business deals, social networking, and even gambling, the ever-favorite pastime of men. Online gambling first emerged in the early part of the 1990s and had become an instant hit, with an estimated 3000 online websites on the net today. It totally radicalized the gambling industry and has seen takers from across age groups. However, just like the land version, even internet gambling is fraught with problems. The addiction problem prevails in the online world as well.

What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling is an impulse-control disorder that leads to major disruptions in all areas of life: psychological, social, vocational or physical. It also includes the stage of ‘pathological’ or ‘compulsive’ gambling. Problem gambling is characterized by an increasing preoccupation with gambling. They have an urge to bet money more frequently and become restless or irritable, if anyone tries to stop. They usually are aware of the mounting, serious, negative problems but staying off the bet becomes the most difficult thing for them.

Online problem gambling is a manifestation of the aforementioned problems. But a study has shown that people who indulge in online gambling have more serious addiction problems than those who use the lottery or play slot machines. Online gambling problems are on the rise because of the explosive growth of the internet.

Causes leading to Internet Gambling

o The privacy and anonymous nature of the internet space has led to people taking to gambling without any hesitation.

o Easy accessibility of online games in the internet has led to people spending more time on gambling.

o Those who work on the internet most of the time can easily avail of online games. This gradually leads to addiction.

Signs of problem Gambling

o Gambling much longer than intended.

o Gambling until you spend the last penny.

o Using up incomes or even saving to gamble, while bills remain unpaid.

o Borrowing money continuously to finance your gambling needs.

o Neglecting your family and professional responsibilities.

o Stoop to stealing, cheating or selling household stuff to get gambling money.

o Gamble with the hope that it will solve financial woes or even win back losses.

o Relieve feelings of depression.

o They can easily set up a gambling account and there are a variety of forms of gambling – right from traditional betting, to casino gambling, lotteries and bingo. All this makes online gambling tremendously appealing.

o There is no time limit and in the absence of a supervisor, a person can go on gambling for up to 24 hours a day.

o As you play, there is a decreased perception of the value of cash and players frequently forget that they are playing with cash.

Online Gambling and its effects

Though many believe that legalized gambling is just harmless entertainment, but people already affected by it and continuous study results have veered on its deceptive nature. In fact, it is considered to cause even more harm than playing in a live casino building. The health and emotional difficulties associated with gambling disorders includes depression, circulatory disease, substance abuse and even risky sexual behavior. Recent studies have concluded that online gambling comprised basically of unmarried and younger participants over people who never gamble. Contrary to the fact that internet is associated with high education level and higher income strata, the study pointed out that online gambler addicts belong to lower education and income levels. Online gambling is one of the fastest growing addictions to afflict the youth today.

The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a study wherein they found that 74% of online gamblers are problematic or pathological gamblers. Among this, the group that is most at risk is the teens. Online problem gamblers spend much more money on the online gambling websites than the amount teenagers spend on drugs. The worse bit of online gambling is its anonymity. Earlier, a person had to go to a gambling house in order to satisfy their urge to gamble and everybody knew how you fare or how much you lost. But now, you just walk into your office or bedroom and there goes your savings in thin air, and not a soul gets a whiff of it. The lenient regulation measures of the online gambling industry have only added on to the problem.

Treatment for Online Problem Gambling

Those addicted to online gambling need to take the following steps to avoid and get over such problems. Its very important to remember the onus of the entire treatment process lies, first and foremost, with you. You should wake up and take control, before you reach the point of no return. The first steps are always the hardest and once you can overcome them; the rest will be a breeze of air.

o Be honest with yourself and accept your problem.

o Manage your money and keep track of the amount you are spending. Gamers should remember to spend only what they can afford to lose. Chasing losses will only lead to a further downward spiral.

o Postpone your gambling urges. Next time you want to play, catch a movie or go out for dinner. Playing sudoku will take off your mind from gambling for a while.

o When you have leisure time, indulge in recreation that has nothing to with gambling.

o Use software to block access to gambling sites and make it password protected. You should not know the password.

o Get professional help as soon as possible.

Online problem gambling may affect anyone. One should be aware of one’s gambling behavior. There are many gory examples of problem gambling which should serve as eye openers for the affected. Any form of addiction is a choice. It becomes a disease because of your loss of control. Speak to your near and dear ones. Help is never far away. One precious lifetime is all you get, and it would be incredibly foolish to attempt to ruin even a second of it by way of unnecessary problems.

Traditional Gambling Versus Online Gambling

An Overview

Gambling nowadays is not related to a mere recreation activity albeit it has now taken a new direction into business and industry. For some it’s a pleasure activity and for the others it is a lucrative business. Although gambling is not at all a new sport which has emerged in this century, it has been a favorite of our ancestors and the historians date back the involvement into this activity to prehistoric times. It has been factually proved that even the early caveman was a gambler.

Gambling to a layman would mean sport involving money and an easy way to multiply the same. Although being a part f this sport means staking of one thing or the other. History has witnessed several incidents where not only wealth and material objects were a part of this game but also one’s own identity or the ownership of a family member was staked.

Gambling activity in this century has taken a two dimensional outlook. With high paced lives and scarcity of time for almost everything, even recreation activities are time bound. To this new age life, Internet comfortably snuggles in and creates a position of its own, thus giving room to Online Gambling. As compared to traditional gambling practices where one has to be physically available in the arena of casino, online gambling gives us the comfort of gambling in the privacy of our homes or café.

To further elaborate on both the categories of gambling lets have a closer look into the basic features of both. Traditional gambling basically has three types of games involved namely the table games, random games and gaming machines. Almost all the categories in traditional gambling requires parting with physical cash and getting them converted into chips which are of various denominations and are then further used in the game. The only division of game which does not require conversion of cash into chips is that of slot machines. Here the gambler has to place a quarter into the slot machine and pull on the lever. There are still some games where cash is deposited, but that is mainly confined to games which involve huge jackpots. Generally in such games the basic deposit only sums up to a huge amounts.

Online gambling, on the other hand, is a relatively comfortable way of enjoying the game. Needless to say the reason for its manifold popularity goes to the time factor and the availability of pleasure at the click of a button. Moreover, in order to attract more and more people into online gambling the owners make their sites tempting by offering various payback schemes and added advantages to its members. All sorts of games can be selected by just logging on the website. Basically the games available in this form of gambling can be broadly divided into two categories, one in which a particular software needs to be downloaded and the other which can be played without it as well.

Comparative Analysis of Traditional Gambling and Online Gambling

Although online gambling is gaining momentum, traditional gambling is still the undisputed leader in the business. There are pros and cons in both forms of gambling and it depends upon the personal liking of each gambler as to which form suits his or her requirement.

In traditional gambling where one can find the adrenaline rising and pressure on one’s nerves, the same is a miss in online gambling to some extent. The pleasure of winning and celebrating can be only enjoyed in the traditional gambling. The drive behind playing it again and again lies in winning and celebrating, thus giving instant boost in business of the casino owners. Winning of one motivates thousands others to remain in the game. Thus if we see the involvement, pleasure and financial aspect of gambling, no doubt traditional gambling would take a lead into it.

Online gambling, on the other hand, suits one and all to the extent of people residing in remote areas where availability of an actual casino is a miss. All it requires is a basic internet connection and you are into the pleasure of the sport. It gives you the leverage of time and space. Another advantage of online gambling can be that one can enjoy huge payouts and bonuses, but along with it the companies keep a catch of not paying the entire earned amount in order to make the gambler play for long. The reason for making a player gamble for longer durations is that generally the longer you play the chances of you losing increase, thereby making the casino owners reap higher profit margins.

In terms of business traditional gambling is favorable to the casino owners. They have all the tools and tactics available to make a gambler play and stay for long which in turn means that the odds increase in the favour of casino owners. But for a gambler, traditional form of gambling may be of loss at times as the earnings are lesser than the actual amount earned. Generally the payouts are in terms of 5 or 6 times the actual amount put at stake but the casinos pay out lesser and so results in visible loss.

Conclusion

Gambling in the eyes of gambler has its own dimensions which cannot be gauged by the critics. Form of gambling may have difference of opinions but the ultimate pleasure of sport cannot be undermined in either form of gambling.

On the other hand gambling as a line of business may mean totally different to the casino owners. They would have an altogether different stream of thoughts to analyze the two forms of gambling.

To sum up, both the forms of gambling have their own set of advantages and disadvantages and none of it can be said to be perfect. It totally depends upon the individual to choose from the options available which can satiate his or her desire.

The only common thing in both the streams is to set up individual limits and to keep his or her decisive powers strong so as to know when to draw the line.