Internet gambling is one of the fastest growing industries in the world today; there is an amazing array of online gambling options available for people to gamble in safety and convenience. It is only obvious that laws have been changed to keep pace with the requirements of this industry that generates tens of billions of dollars every year (the illegal gambling business is estimated to be much larger). After all, if so much money is permitted to be unregulated then it will soon be controlled by criminal elements.
It is interesting to note that countries do not all have a similar approach to gambling and this influences the types of laws that they have made to regulate online gambling. The United Kingdom has a very open approach towards gambling and this reflects in its laws that are designed to protect the interests of the players as well as service providers, as should be the case. As a matter of fact, online gambling has been legal in the country since 2005, as a result of which some of the best known and most reliable online gambling operators are from the UK. Gambling regulators have succeeded in ensuring that gambling in the UK is very fair by updating laws to reflect existing realities. At the same time, it provides protection to people who might fall victim to unscrupulous gambling operations.
The United States, on the other hand, does not officially recognize online gambling and therefore there are no proper laws that govern it. The Wire Wager Act of 1961 continues to define the legal environment concerning gambling. At the same time, Americans contribute a lions’ share of internet gambling. Interestingly, there are quite a few loopholes in the law that confuse the issue. It is no surprise that some of the brightest legal brains have chosen to specialize in this field because of the immense potential it offers.
The biggest drawback of the Wire Wager Act is that it is neither comprehensive nor up to date. It was meant to supplement laws already existing or to be passed in the different states. Since the law uses ambiguous language such as “wire communication facility’, it has been misused to a large extent.
The United States further tightened control over online gambling by passing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006. This law came as a disappointment to people who were hoping that online gambling would finally be legalised in the United States. As a matter of fact, many online gambling companies terminated operations in the US as a result of this law. However, many companies responded to the law by operating from offshore locations so that players from the US could continue to use them.
Given that online gambling is such huge business, the United States is actually losing out on much needed revenues by not regulating and taxing it. Furthermore, legal expert Bob Ciaffone feels American gamblers do not get protection from illegal gambling operations. It is very clear to see that the law needs to be made up to date without any delay.