Playing and Paying Big: The World of Internet Gambling Takes its Winnings

Gambling isn’t about winning, it’s about playing – and when there’s an immense opportunity to play, there’s undoubtedly a colossal industry in the making. This is precisely the notion that the internet gambling business thrives on; after all, a little accessibility can work wonders on any business. But the online gambling industry has gained more than a little popularity over the last decade, growing into $14.5 billion market. What’s more, industry revenues are anticipated to climb to a whopping $25 billion by the year 2010 – nearly half of which is foreseen to come from US players, with Japan and China, who gamble twice as much as they shop online, trailing close behind. And the lingering threat of anti-gambling laws certainly isn’t doing much to slow the industry’s astounding speed of success.

But the proven growth of the internet gambling industry should not come as a surprise to anyone. Gambling, on its own, is of a nature that picks its winners and losers at random. Whether someone is an avid gambler or a first-time player, he or she has the opportunity to strike it big – and this ‘gamble’ is undeniably just as much a part of the appeal as the potential reward. But moreover, a better means of accessibility into the realm of an already booming business denotes inevitable expansion – and at an astonishing pace. This is just the idea behind internet gambling. No matter where in the world a person is, an internet connection paired with that one vital ingredient – money – will allow that person to place a bet. Even people who have never thought of setting foot in a casino now have the ability to venture into one at their own pace. And with over 2,000 gambling sites, there’s certainly no shortage of choice.

But the industry hasn’t stopped at ‘traditional’ modes of gambling either. With such an incredible client backing, it currently has a bit of room to make things more ‘interesting’. It is, for example, straying from casino style and sports themed betting to wagering on topics within the entertainment industry. Will your favorite celebrities survive their relationships? Who will win at the Oscars? Place your bets! It’s like taking a trip to Las Vegas – except you don’t have to travel, there are no bright, blinding lights, and the gambling never really has to end.

A current concern regarding the industry has to do with a greater degree of addiction that is linked to online gambling. This is simply a result of Internet gambling sites providing a higher level of access to players than the original, or ‘real’, casino. But when an alarming fifty percent of the gambling industry’s profits come from five percent of the population, one begins to wonder what the statistics will stagger to with the rise of internet gambling. However, certain online gambling sites, such as Unibet, are also taking the approach of promoting responsible online gambling. If this approach becomes a norm, it could help online gambling from spinning out of control.

Yet the possibility that online gamblers will have spending addictions is just the reason they’re seen as a money making ‘opportunity’ for many companies on the Internet. People willing to bet their money online for a potential loss are simply more likely to shop online as well. Gamblers are more apt than non-gamblers to click on ads, sign up for marketing posts, and to ultimately spend their money online. Thus, the gambler is undoubtedly a big target in the marketing world.

So with an evident link between Internet gamblers and online market success, it’s no wonder that many are placing their bets on the future of the online gambling industry. And with Internet gambling paving the way for a larger ‘pool’ of players within the gambling world, it doesn’t seem that the business will run out of luck any time soon.

Andrew Regan is an online journalist who enjoys socialising

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The US Gambling Law & How It Affects US Players

In all things legal, there’s no substitution for the advice of a qualified lawyer. However, a general idea of where the law stands on gambling and poker is a good place to start if you have concerns about playing poker for money online.

The first thing you should know about US gambling laws is this: recent events have brought a lot of attention to online wagering and the passing of the Safe Pot Act, which included an important statute about online betting, will make sports betting and most online wagers involving money transfers, illegal.

The second thing you should know about gambling and poker: there is a big difference between something like sports betting and gambling in a skills game like poker or bridge. There’s also a sizeable difference between betting in roulette or on a slot machine. As yet, these different forms of gambling have not been treated in the same way by the law; a ruling that applies to sports betting doesn’t necessarily apply – at least not yet – to online poker.

The situation is still very confusing though.

One of the leading gambling law authorities in the US had this to say before the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006: “No United States federal statute or regulation explicitly prohibits Internet gambling, either domestically or abroad.” However, the Wire Act contains the following subsection: “Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

It’s fairly easy to see why this statue, the Wire Act, was most often citied as the law that makes online gambling, specifically sports betting, illegal. Yet, even this important statute doesn’t explicitly state that online gambling, let alone online poker playing, is illegal. The wording of the statue suggests that it only applies to the individual involved in the “business of betting or wagering” not to the individual better or, in poker, to the individual player. See the case of Jay Cohen for more.

In 2006, the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act changed the situation for online sports betters and, probably, for poker players as well. The act looks set to specifically target the transfer of money in the betting world.

Free games and forms of gambling that don’t involve the transfer of money will be unaffected by the bill, but just about every other form of gambling is, although it’s still considered unlikely that individual bet makers, let alone poker players involved wagers, will be targeted by state or federal governments.

Most of the attention in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the Wire Act is given to money transfer. As per the 2006 Act: “No person engaged in the business of betting or wagering may knowingly accept any money transfers in any way from a person participating in unlawful Internet gambling…[which]…includes credit cards, electronic fund transfers, and even paper checks. But it is limited to Internet gambling businesses, not mere players.”

The expectation is that all online transfers or transactions of money will require participants to provide valid and verifiable ID so that the transaction can be tracked and assessed.

When it comes to funding or withdrawing from an online poker account, for example, with a credit card, check, or wire transfer, the 2006 Act will probably make things more complicated for the player. Ultimately, it will depend on how readily the new laws are enforced and how readily the individuals sites agree to comply.

Playing poker online has not been considered illegal either by law or by consensus, but it’s important for anyone with concerns to consult with a lawyer for more information about how this new bill, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, will affect the situation. Everyone should stay informed of developments that may change the status of either online gambling in general or online poker playing. The Act hasn’t been signed yet but it will be and the regulations it proposes will go into affect by the beginning of 2007. You should also check the laws for the state in which you live.

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