wants online gambling ban, but individuals love online casinos
The federal government
appears to agree with online casinos haters and is doing all it
can to curb the spread of online casinos, which is estimated to
be a $12 billion-a-year business.
Last month, it arrested the CEO of a top online casinos firm,
one of the most popular online casinos, when he changed planes
in Dallas, as part of its aggressive crackdown on online
Also, the House of Representatives recently passed a tough anti
online casinos law, further regulating payment systems as well
as punishing people who facilitate online casinos, such as other
sites that accept advertising from offshore online casinos.
But while the federal government tries to clamp down on online
casinos, do those who actually make bets at online caisnos have
to worry about running afoul of the law?
In the weird world of online casinos, betting at online casinos
is legal, except in states with explicit bans such as
Washington, which outlaws all online casinos, or Nevada, which
disallows betting on horses via online casinos.
But while betting at internet casino sites is often not against
the law, accepting the wager most decidedly is. The rub in terms
of enforcing the law is that all the offshore casino sites are
located outside U.S. borders, in such countries as Costa Rica
“There is no way you can put a curtain around the U.S. and stop
the Internet,” said Frank Catania, a consultant to the gambling
industry and the former director of the New Jersey Division of
Still, the government is trying.
The 1,800 or so gambling sites and their operators are, for the
most part, out of reach of the U.S. government.
Some are so well-established that they trade on the London Stock
Exchange. In fact, the United Kingdom is gearing up to legalize
net gambling sites, further complicating this country's attempt
to limit their reach, Catania said.
The current jurisdictional labyrinth has helped the market for
online gambling in the United States to flourish.
Americans account for $6 billion of the online gambling
industry's estimated annual revenue of $12 billion. By way of
comparison, all other forms of gambling in the United States had
revenue of almost $79 billion in 2004.
Internet gambling among U.S. citizens is growing at a rate of 20
percent a year, according to a study by the American Gaming
Association, the trade organization of commercial casinos.
One the most successful gambling firms, said 84 percent of its
nearly $1 billion revenue in 2005 came from U.S. residents.
Pacific Beach resident Ryan Lord said the allure of online
gambling is hard to ignore – it's easy money.
Lord, 32, has played in online poker tournaments since Christmas
and said he is doing so well that he may quit his job and try to
make a living gambling. Recently, he's been cashing out for
about $300 a day.
“It's not huge money, but it's tax-free,” he said.