Business, Entertainment

US Rethinking Internet Gambling


It happened with Prohibition. It just may happen with Internet gambling. Taxes. Yes, what brought the prohibition of liquor to an end was that the US government saw alcohol as a means of income in the form of taxation. The legalization of marijuana may get a boast from depleting revenues in a similar fashion. Now, there is talk of the US allowing Internet gambling, whereas it has been outlawed since 2006.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act [UIGEA] made Internet gambling illegal and restricted companies, such as banks and credit card companies, from paying monies to Internet gambling sites. Their reasoning? Internet gambling was an enticement for compulsive gamblers, kids might fall under the radar and partake, and sites could unfairly rig the odds, and, oh my, it was a potential means of money laundering.
Almost immediately, publicly-listed gaming companies, announced that they would not accept wagers from citizens of the US, supposedly leading to losses of more than seven billion dollars on the London Stock Exchange. Other sites just went offshore, and gamblers put their funds into an e-wallet where the money could be used for on-line purchases ? including placing bets. The source of the e-wallet monies? Yep, the customer?s bank or credit card accounts. Those e-wallet conduits generally are also based off shore where there is no US regulation.
The catch, well one of the catches, is that if you lose, you lose; if you win, you just may not collect. And there isn?t much a US-based gambler can do about it. Check the small print. Terms of Service indicate the site adheres to the laws of some country where gambling is legal. Since gambling is illegal in the US, to put it bluntly, you?re screwed. You can?t take the website to court in the US.
It becomes a matter of semantics. Internet Poker seems to pass the test and not be hassled by the government, since it is a "game of skill," not of chance. Those fine lines allow wiggle room, and you apparently can?t stop gambling any more than you can stop other "vices." As with liquor, marijuana, prostitution, and gambling, offer it and they will come. It is difficult if not impossible to separate people from their pleasures. No wonder the US may try for a piece of the pie in the form legalization, regulation, and taxation.