Is Online Gambling Legal?
Gambling is a form of entertainment that is intended to win something of value from an uncertain event, such as a race or a sporting event. The process requires three elements: risk, reward and a prize. Historically, gambling activities were conducted in physical locations such as casinos and race tracks, although Internet-based gambling was introduced in the late 1990s. Online gambling is legal in a number of jurisdictions, including the United States and most European countries. However, in many countries, there are restrictions on gambling. Despite its popularity, the legality of internet-based gambling is not clear.
In the US, gambling is regulated on the federal level. For example, the Interstate Commerce Clause allows Congress to regulate the extent of gambling activities on Indian reservations within state borders. Congress has taken action to limit the scope of Indian reservation gambling, which includes sports betting. Other federal legislation regulates the types of gambling that are permitted. While some states have banned certain forms of gambling, other states have allowed residents to wager on certain sporting events online.
Internet-based gambling is facilitated by technological advances, such as broadband connectivity and the proliferation of Internet-enabled devices. It is also facilitated by a wide range of sites that offer online gambling services. To access these sites, individuals must have a computer or laptop with a web browser and an Internet connection. They may deposit funds with a variety of methods, from debit cards to credit cards. Some sites require players to download software to play. Players can select from a range of games, from “instant” games to casino games. Most online casinos offer both options, allowing gamblers to choose the one that best suits their needs.
Internet-based gambling is a growing industry, and in recent years, has surpassed land-based gambling to become the world’s largest gambling market. Revenues from the industry increased from $830 million in 1998 to $21 billion in 2008. During the same period, the number of websites offering gambling services doubled from 15 to 200. Several jurisdictions have proposed new laws to regulate the industry.
One potential problem associated with Internet gambling is the emergence of a large, heterogeneous group of gamblers. Although the prevalence of Internet-based gambling is low, the population is increasing rapidly, and a proportion of Internet gamblers will likely experience problems. As such, research must continue to explore characteristics of Internet gamblers at risk of gambling problems.
Internet-based gambling may be especially risky to individuals who already have gambling problems. A number of studies have suggested that individuals who have a history of problem gambling are more likely to participate in Internet-based gambling. This study suggests that a relationship between gambling involvement and problem gambling has been found, but further research must be done to determine whether the presence of risk indicators is associated with the severity of a gambling disorder.
Research should also consider how gambling activities are integrated with other offline gambling. Online gambling is likely to expand, and the next generation of gamblers is more likely to begin using the Internet mode earlier in their gambling careers. Therefore, it is important to conduct longitudinal research that takes into account the impact of Internet-based gambling on the lives of gamblers.