Types of Internet Gambling Sites

The most visible indicator of change is the proliferation of Internet gambling sites. At the present, a comprehensive inventory of the number of gambling sites is probably impossible to compile, given companies’ constant entry into and exit from the market and the lack of any central registry. In December 1998, the on-line publication Bloomberg News reported that 800 gambling-related sites existed, 60 of which offered real-time betting. 6 Reflecting the lack of sharp borders in this area, this estimate includes sites that provide information for all types of gambling, such as Web pages promoting tourism to large casinos. The Web site Rolling Good Times provides links to approximately 1,000 Internet sites that offer some form of betting. 7 By itself, however, this number may be misleading, because many of those sites are segments within a single operation and many of the on-line gambling operations are merely subsidiaries of the same companies. Nevertheless, the number of sites can be expected to grow.

Along with a burgeoning presence on the Internet, the design and pace of the on-line games have advanced dramatically over the past few years, as has their ease of use. Gambling sites now feature interactive games, broadcast races in real-time video, and walk customers through a virtual tour of the site, complete with colorful graphics and background music. Prior to gambling, most sites require people to fill out registration forms and to either purchase “chips” or set up accounts with a preset minimum amount. Payment is made using credit or debit cards, money transfers, or other forms of electronic payment, such as “smart cards” or “Cybercash.” 8

Once registered, the gambler has a full range of games from which to choose. Most Internet gambling sites offer casino-style gambling, such as blackjack, poker, slot machines, and roulette. 9 Casino-style sites also often require gamblers to either download special software or ask for a CD-ROM, with the software to be sent to their home.

Another form of gambling available on the Internet is sports gambling, which is receiving increasing media attention. 10 The January 26, 1998, edition of Sports Illustrated highlighted the proliferation of Internet sports gambling sites, which increased from 2 in 1996 to more than 50 by 1998. 11 As of February 1, 1999, Rolling Good Times had listed 110 sports-related Internet gambling sites. 12 The rapid increase in sites likely is the result of the financial success of existing operations. According to National Football League estimates, the Internet sports-gambling market will reach $750 million by the end of 1999. 13

Africa, Trinidad, Turks and Caicos Islands, four territories in the United Kingdom, Vanatu, and Venezuela. Interactive Gaming News, Licensing Information, http:// www. igamingnews. com/ articles/ licenses/ countries. cfm. (last visited May 10, 1999). 6 Laurie Berger, “Betting Against the Odds?” Bloomberg News, (Dec. 1998) http:// www. bloomberg. com/ mag/ vp_ A9801. html. 7 Rolling Good Times; visited Jan. 31, 1999. rgtonline. com. 8 For more information on electronic payment forms visit http:// www. cybercash. com. 9 I. Nelson Rose, “Internet Gambling: Domestic & International Developments,” Gambling and the Law, 4 (Nov. 23, 1998). 10 Ante Z. Udovicic, “Special Reports: Sports and Gambling A Good Mix? I Wouldn’t Bet On It,” 8 Marq. Sports L. J. 401, Spring 1998 at 11. 11 Steven Crist & Don Yeager, “All Bets Are Off,” Sports Illustrated, Jan. 26, 1998, available in LEXIS, Nexis Library, News file. 12 Rolling Good Times, supra note 21. 13 Jeff Houck, “To A Cyber Abyss,” The Palm Beach Post, Jan. 26, 1999, p. 1C. 3