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Legal online gambling: The pros and cons of legalizing Internet gambling

Legal online gambling: The pros and cons of legalizing Internet gambling With yet another Internet gambling bill suffering defeat, it's clear that legal online gambling in the U.S. is years away from a fact. But during a heated debate over the existing online gambling laws, not only in the U.S., but world-wide, we couldn't help but ask ourselves - what are the pros and cons of legalizing online gambling in the country? Well, let's take a look:

 Pros of legal online gambling: Legalizing Internet gambling has its positive sides for all parties involved - gamblers, gambling websites and government. To being with the most important piece of the puzzle - the gamblers. Security is arguably the most important feature of legal online gambling - how many times have you gambled online at a casino or a sportsbook and win, only to find out that there will be no check coming your way? Yes, crooked online casinos and sportsbooks will continue to exist, even if Internet gambling is legalized, but the customer will have a wide array of licensed gambling websites to choose from, hence curbing fraud to almost zero. People want to gamble, they want to win and they want to get their winnings. A legal licensed gambling website would guarantee this. Hand in hand with security comes honesty - no one wants to play at a dishonest casino or sportsbook. A licensed one is a good start in that direction (although it will hardly be a given). And of course, legality itself. The poor online gamblers in the state of Washington are currently felons for playing a few hands of poker on the Internet. I just cannot imagine the Washington anti-online gambling law staying on the books with legal online poker websites. Then again, with the current political scene in the state, anything is possible.

 The gambling websites also stand a good deal to gain from legal online gambling. Just ask David Carruthers from BetOnSports, the Neteller co-founders and PartyGaming. Legalizing your online gambling business, whether it is a sportsbook, casino, poker room or payment processor would lift the burden of looking over your shoulder for the Feds. Advertising your website in a legalized Internet gambling atmosphere would also be easier tenfold. You want to travel to the U.S. but own a sportsbook? No problem, as long as you pay your taxes. Which leads us to the third group of legal online gambling beneficiaries - the government. Estimates have always flown around that online gambling generates over 10 billion in revenue yearly, can you imagine the cut the U.S. government will get once the majority of the gambling websites are legalized? True, resources must be set aside to oversee the industry and the laws, but let's just say the remainder will hardly be a chump change. Bottom line, legal online gambling is beneficial to all parties involved.

 On the other side, there are a small number of "cons", when we talk about legalizing Internet gambling. Not as much as "cons", but participants which would hate to see the online gambling industry legalized in the United States. There are plenty of online sportsbook (and online casino) operators, which have no interest in ever visiting the United States or desire to share some of the wealth with the government (in the form of taxes or fees). As the gambling sites have already proven to us - you can always find a payment processor to take the customers' money. And the U.S. cannot do anything to block those websites - let's face it, this is not China. So those individuals remain quite comfortable in the current lawless situations and would anything but lobby for legalization. Bottom line, legal online gambling will not be welcomed by those companies. Lucky for them, U.S. is light years away from legalizing Internet gambling, or so it seems.

 Published on 07/01/2008

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