The European Union and Internet Gambling
the past few months we have seen a big change in the web
gambling industry, with some countries leaning towards a ban,
others making it legal.
Most people don't realize that everything
started in the United Kingdom - they were the first big and
powerful country to legalize online gambling, and start giving
licenses to online gaming companies. Companies such as Party
Gaming and 888 Holdings came out of the shades and became
publicly trading companies.
With the United stats being
the major target for online gambling, despite the gray situation
surrounding web betting and wagering (since it was not necessary
over a wire), many U.K. licensed companies started advertising
for the U.S. market and made it their main supplier of players.
But the biggest mistake that
one could have ever made was to take advertising for online
casinos and poker rooms out of the internet and move it into the
TV. It seemed kind of "OK" to do it on the Internet, but after
you brought the gambling to the millions of television sets - it
got some unwanted attention and awareness.
The American Way
So in September, in the last
hours of the Senate's workday, a bill was attached to the
unrelated Port Security Bill, and financial transactions to
online betting and wagering websites became illegal. Many failed
to notice that this amendment did not make online gambling
illegal - you could still go online and play poker without any
fear of prosecution - it just made the thousands of banks in the
U.S. criminals. It was a very poor "regulation" which is doing
nothing about anything, but it served its purpose - to give a
few republican senators an extra tool for the upcoming
elections, especially among their Christian voters. And to show
how uninformed of this matter the sponsors of this bill are -
the question of how would the banks weed out transactions
intended to gambling websites, out of the millions of money
transfers occurring every hour, has one and only answer - they
simply can not do it. They could try and stop transactions to
major third-party funding tools, such as Neteller, but the
online casinos will come with more new ways to help you loose
And lets not forget that this
is a violation of our rights to choose when, where and how we
spend our hard earn money. It's called freedom of choice.
The European Union Way
Well, things look better
there, but not by much. Internet gambling legislation comes to
show people that the Union is not united, and it will take a
long time before it is.
United Kingdom was the first
from the E.U. countries to legalize online gambling. The Italy
joined, after a 2 year ban. Now Spain has followed suit and is
making gambling on the web legal. However, Germany just tried to
introduce a federal online gambling ban (read
the story here). Three of the German states already
have local laws prohibiting wagering on the internet. France is
also introducing similar bills trying to make gambling on the
Internet illegal in their country. And all this, despite the
fact that the European Trade Commission is trying to spread the
legalization of online gambling throughout the Union.
So where is Internet gambling
The recent legislation
in the U.S. made a lot of online casinos shut their doors to
American players. Almost 40% of the online casinos do not accept
players from the United States. However, there are a few "risk
takers" who realized that - they are not located in U.S.
jurisdiction, and any anti gambling laws passed in the USA do
not concern them, as they are being protected by the Free Trade
Agreement, so they continued to welcome players from all over
Other online gambling
companies have taken the more cautious way, and stop accepting
players from any U.S. state that has legal offline gambling.
Although we are not sure why this decision was taken, we can
speculate that they are trying to avoid stepping on someone's
And then there was the new
that Las Vegas Sands - an U.S. casino company, is opening an
online casino, targeting U.K. players (read
the story here). It's obvious that this move is
nothing more than testing the waters for future online gambling
market in the States.
There is only one way ahead -
and that is - to legalize, regulate and tax online gambling
companies, rather than try to ban them. On the fun side, let's
just hope we don't see the Bush administration announce a "War
on online gambling". But then again, who will win?