Main Aspects of Internet Gambling in The United States
from $445.4 million in 1997 to $919.1 million in 1998.92 Both the Sinclair and the Frost and Sullivan studies estimate that revenues for Internet gambling doubled within 1 year. Several factors have contributed to the dramatic growth. First, Internet access has increased throughout the world, particularly in the United States.93 As interest in the Internet has increased, technologies that drive the Internet have continued to improved. Internet gamblers can participate instantaneously through improved software providing real-time audio and visual games and races. Additionally, the public’s confidence in conducting financial transactions on-line has increased.94 Furthermore, a number of foreign governments, such as Australia and Antigua, are licensing Internet gambling operators within their borders.
However, along with its meteoric rise, Internet gambling is raising issues never previously addressed and exacerbating concerns associated with traditional forms of gambling. While preventing underage gambling and reducing problems associated with problem and pathological gambling are concerns for all forms of gambling, reducing these concerns is particularly challenging for Internet gambling. The Internet provides the highest level of anonymity for conducting gambling to date. While “know your customer” is a motto of the gambling industry, this becomes particularly challenging through technologies available to Internet users. Screening clients to determine age or if they have a history of gambling problems is difficult at best. For the users of gambling, the Internet fuels concerns regarding the legitimacy of the games and the gambling operators.
General concerns about the relationship between gambling and crime, including money laundering, become particularly acute when considering gambling on the Internet.
Various public officials and interest groups are initiating efforts to address the concerns of Internet gambling. Several states have passed or are considering legislation to ban Internet gambling within their jurisdictions. Several attorneys general have brought lawsuits against Internet gambling operators. Individuals who have incurred credit card debt have brought lawsuits against their credit card companies and their respective banks. The Department of Justice has arrested or issued warrants for arrest on 22 Internet gambling operators and successfully indicted several individuals. Legislation to ban Internet gambling in the United States has been introduced during the 105th and 106th Congress, and is presently under consideration in the Senate. Groups that have supported these measures include state gambling regulators, professional and amateur sports associations, and a rare stance for federal involvement by the National Association of Attorneys General.
Still, mechanisms to enforce prohibitions have raised concerns regarding the role of Internet Service Providers and possible infringement on freedom of speech. Furthermore, most Internet gambling business operate offshore and are licensed by foreign governments, making it difficult to prevent access to illegal sites. Politically, sentiments surrounding Internet commerce are unique, as demonstrated by the President’s declaration of the Internet as a freetrade zone.95