Online gambling has existed for decades, but only recently has the government caught up to the technology that makes it possible. The Internet allows gamblers to play games of chance at any time of the day or night. It also allows for the anonymity of financial transactions, which may make online casinos particularly susceptible to money laundering and other crimes. A gambling addiction is a serious problem. It can lead to physical and psychological problems and even financial hardship.
Although the federal government has been hostile to the burgeoning internet gaming industry for years, lawmakers are beginning to catch up to the new developments. This is especially true in the state of Washington, which has the toughest laws against online gambling. Anyone who is caught gambling on the Web in that state is convicted of a class C felony. In addition, anyone who assists in the operation of an online gambling site is also convicted of a felony.
In the past decade, the number of American consumers who gamble on the Internet has risen rapidly. Almost 2% of Americans gamble on the Internet once a month. Several states have legalized online casinos, including Nevada and New Jersey. There are even mobile casino apps that allow people to play anytime.
While the legality of online gambling is not a matter of debate, a number of other concerns are. For example, gambling addiction can lead to financial instability and anxiety. Excessive gambling can also cause depression. Some of the most popular online games include poker, blackjack, roulette and slots. Gambling on sports is on the rise as well. Many online casinos are designed with flexible betting limits so that users can wager as little or as much as they like.
Since the start of the ‘poker boom’ in the late 1990s, there have been a number of studies and surveys that attempt to quantify the size of the online gambling industry. Among these are the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGIS), Christiansen Capital Advisors and Bear Stearns & Co.
According to NIS, the online gambling industry reaches at least $2 billion a year. Most of the revenue is derived from high rollers. Another major financial beneficiary is the companies that process online gambling transactions. Moreover, other businesses benefit from the online gambling market.
A survey conducted by the Harris Poll found that three out of four Americans are aware of online gambling. Nearly half of respondents say they are interested in playing on the Internet for sports betting. About 1% of Americans gamble on the Internet once a year.
The World Trade Organization ruled in 2004 that the United States was violating international trade agreements by not allowing online gambling. The federal government did not agree to change its position on the matter, but the WTO did. It convened a panel to study the issue. After a lengthy investigation, the panel concluded that the US was not acting in compliance with its obligations under its trading partners’ contracts.