Internet Gambling Laws – US, UK and the World

Legal minds turned to Internet gambling laws as a specialty when the industry went beyond growth and exploded into the public mind. “The law surrounding Internet gambling in the United States has been murky, to say the least,” according to Lawrence G. Walters, one of the attorneys working with gameattorneys.com.

In contrast, Internet gambling laws in the U.K. have made the lives of providers and players a bit easier. The passage of the Gambling Act of 2005 has basically legalized and regulated online play in the U.K.

With the objectives of keeping gambling from promoting “crime or disorder” the U.K. act attempts to keep gambling fair, in addition to protecting younger citizens and others who may be victimized by gambling operation. Unlike the United States, which still clings to the 1961 Wire Wager Act, the U.K. significantly relaxed regulations that are decades old. A gambling commission was established to enforce the code and license operators.

A Whole Other Country

According to Walters and many other observers of the Internet gambling laws scene, the United States Department of Justice continues to view all gambling on the Internet as illegal under the Wire Act. But there are details in the federal law that defy attempts to throw a blanket over all online gambling.

The Wire Wager Act forms the basis for federal action on Internet gambling laws in the United States. The law was meant to complement and support laws in the various states, focusing primarily on “being engaged in the business of betting or wagering” using wire communication to place bets or wagers on sporting events or similar contests. The law also comments on receiving money or credit that results from such a wager. The keys are “business,” “money or credit” and “wire communication facility.”

But as many attorneys and proponents of fair Internet gambling laws emphasize, the federal law does not specifically address other forms of gambling. This has left the law open to interpretation when it comes to online casinos specifically and using the World Wide Web to play online games.

October 13, 2006 is a crucial date in the controversy surrounding the legalization of gambling. For anyone wishing to understand Internet gambling laws, the federal law passed on that day is essential knowledge. President George W. Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which is intended to limit some “financial transactions” used for online gambling.

But even if current federal gambling laws can clearly define something as simple as a legal gambling age, the newer UIGEA has not settled all the dust raised around the issue of online gambling. Attorneys such as Walters (and many others) have pointed out that the UIGEA seems to refer only to financial transactions and wagers that are illegal where the wager or transaction is made. Some wagers may be legal while others may not be legal. It’s as simple as that.

The UIGEA had some effect on Internet gambling, in that many successful companies got out of the business, at least in the United States. In fact, with the passage of the law in 2006, most U.S. online players found they could not play at an online casino or poker room, for a short time. Many of the gambling providers found ways to establish offices and servers outside of the U.S. so that could invite United States players back in.

Break Time

It’s now time to stop, take a deep breath and turn to Internet gambling laws in the various states. Some have passed their own rules and regulations (before and after UIGEA). In a few states, companies cannot operate an online gambling business. In other states it is illegal for an individual to place a bet using the Web. Some legal experts argue that these individual-state rules are unconstitutional since commerce across state lines should only be regulated by federal law, not state law. Commercial online gambling businesses don’t operate in the United States, however. If you want to visit their “home offices” you may have to travel to Malta, Gibraltar or Curacoa.

The 2005 U.K. law generally allows remote sites such as these. The rules are not so relaxed in the U.S. However, a recent appellate court ruling in the U.S. states that, in at least one case, an Web-based gambling site did not violate states laws. Most legal minds urge gamblers and others interested in the issue to stay tuned.

Some have given their attention to finding benefits of legalized gambling, noting that this huge industry might be a key to economic recovery in the United States. At the heart of their argument are examples such as established lotteries run by various states, in addition to the government revenues that flow in to state coffers from riverboats and land-based casinos.

Part of this effort rests on the shoulders of more than 100 legal representatives working for common sense in Internet gambling laws. This hoard of attorneys has the task of trying to keep the World Wide Web/Internet free from government intervention.

Bob Ciaffone is considered one of the experts on the subject of gambling and poker in general, and on the transition to online gambling. He suggests that any regulation of Web-based gambling should reduce competition from outside the U.S., so that the citizens of the U.S. would benefit in legal gambling states. His detailed plan would parallel the U.K. situation since that country passed its 2005 rules. Ciaffone also strongly urges U.S. lawmakers to keep Internet gambling laws separate from the 40-year-old Wire Act, which was passed to control illegal gambling over the telephone.

In essence, Ciaffone writes that the UIGEA attempted to do the right thing, but does it in all the wrong ways. The restrictions have severely handicapped what could be a great revenue source with proper regulation, according to Ciaffone.

Consider a statement on the UIGEA from the most-recognizable poker player in the world, Doyle Brunson. Though is comments apply to his favorite game of poker, they can easily relate to all Internet gambling laws. He said, in essence, that his company received good legal advice that indicates Internet poker is not “expressly” illegal. He encourages U.S. players to learn the laws of their own state.

While this brief summary touches only the high points of a huge and complex subject, there are sources that have already compiled details for the various states. Check these sites:

www.gambling-law-us.com/State-Law-Summary

www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/ [http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk]

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Online Gambling Problems

The advances in broadband and wireless technology have made the world come together closer than never before. Now virtually everything is possible on the net-shopping, clinching business deals, social networking, and even gambling, the ever-favorite pastime of men. Online gambling first emerged in the early part of the 1990s and had become an instant hit, with an estimated 3000 online websites on the net today. It totally radicalized the gambling industry and has seen takers from across age groups. However, just like the land version, even internet gambling is fraught with problems. The addiction problem prevails in the online world as well.

What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling is an impulse-control disorder that leads to major disruptions in all areas of life: psychological, social, vocational or physical. It also includes the stage of ‘pathological’ or ‘compulsive’ gambling. Problem gambling is characterized by an increasing preoccupation with gambling. They have an urge to bet money more frequently and become restless or irritable, if anyone tries to stop. They usually are aware of the mounting, serious, negative problems but staying off the bet becomes the most difficult thing for them.

Online problem gambling is a manifestation of the aforementioned problems. But a study has shown that people who indulge in online gambling have more serious addiction problems than those who use the lottery or play slot machines. Online gambling problems are on the rise because of the explosive growth of the internet.

Causes leading to Internet Gambling

o The privacy and anonymous nature of the internet space has led to people taking to gambling without any hesitation.

o Easy accessibility of online games in the internet has led to people spending more time on gambling.

o Those who work on the internet most of the time can easily avail of online games. This gradually leads to addiction.

Signs of problem Gambling

o Gambling much longer than intended.

o Gambling until you spend the last penny.

o Using up incomes or even saving to gamble, while bills remain unpaid.

o Borrowing money continuously to finance your gambling needs.

o Neglecting your family and professional responsibilities.

o Stoop to stealing, cheating or selling household stuff to get gambling money.

o Gamble with the hope that it will solve financial woes or even win back losses.

o Relieve feelings of depression.

o They can easily set up a gambling account and there are a variety of forms of gambling – right from traditional betting, to casino gambling, lotteries and bingo. All this makes online gambling tremendously appealing.

o There is no time limit and in the absence of a supervisor, a person can go on gambling for up to 24 hours a day.

o As you play, there is a decreased perception of the value of cash and players frequently forget that they are playing with cash.

Online Gambling and its effects

Though many believe that legalized gambling is just harmless entertainment, but people already affected by it and continuous study results have veered on its deceptive nature. In fact, it is considered to cause even more harm than playing in a live casino building. The health and emotional difficulties associated with gambling disorders includes depression, circulatory disease, substance abuse and even risky sexual behavior. Recent studies have concluded that online gambling comprised basically of unmarried and younger participants over people who never gamble. Contrary to the fact that internet is associated with high education level and higher income strata, the study pointed out that online gambler addicts belong to lower education and income levels. Online gambling is one of the fastest growing addictions to afflict the youth today.

The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a study wherein they found that 74% of online gamblers are problematic or pathological gamblers. Among this, the group that is most at risk is the teens. Online problem gamblers spend much more money on the online gambling websites than the amount teenagers spend on drugs. The worse bit of online gambling is its anonymity. Earlier, a person had to go to a gambling house in order to satisfy their urge to gamble and everybody knew how you fare or how much you lost. But now, you just walk into your office or bedroom and there goes your savings in thin air, and not a soul gets a whiff of it. The lenient regulation measures of the online gambling industry have only added on to the problem.

Treatment for Online Problem Gambling

Those addicted to online gambling need to take the following steps to avoid and get over such problems. Its very important to remember the onus of the entire treatment process lies, first and foremost, with you. You should wake up and take control, before you reach the point of no return. The first steps are always the hardest and once you can overcome them; the rest will be a breeze of air.

o Be honest with yourself and accept your problem.

o Manage your money and keep track of the amount you are spending. Gamers should remember to spend only what they can afford to lose. Chasing losses will only lead to a further downward spiral.

o Postpone your gambling urges. Next time you want to play, catch a movie or go out for dinner. Playing sudoku will take off your mind from gambling for a while.

o When you have leisure time, indulge in recreation that has nothing to with gambling.

o Use software to block access to gambling sites and make it password protected. You should not know the password.

o Get professional help as soon as possible.

Online problem gambling may affect anyone. One should be aware of one’s gambling behavior. There are many gory examples of problem gambling which should serve as eye openers for the affected. Any form of addiction is a choice. It becomes a disease because of your loss of control. Speak to your near and dear ones. Help is never far away. One precious lifetime is all you get, and it would be incredibly foolish to attempt to ruin even a second of it by way of unnecessary problems.

Tools You Need When Starting Your Own Gambling Website

There is a wealth of information on the internet about gambling and betting. How to start a gambling website, what do people bet on, is a betting exchange better than a sports book or casino website, or do users prefer betting online rather than betting offline? What is lacking in many of these posts is not the information they provide on starting a gambling website, but rather exactly where to start. So Where do you start, you ask? and how do you start? Would you require funding when thinking of starting your own gambling website? Are there legal pitfalls in running an online sports book or casino gambling website?

Asking these questions is only a tip of the iceberg in knowing exactly what you are getting yourself into in running a betting exchange or any of the other gambling websites, but knowing the answers will better your chance or odds in running a successful online gambling site. So where do you start? You can search and search around the world wide web and gather all the information (highly recommended) on starting your own casino, running a proper betting exchange, or on providing a fair online sports book atmosphere to your users, but knowing exactly how to use this information is key in running your outfit.

Before we get into how to use the information you gather properly, you may want to visit some of these places if you have not already done so: gambling forums, casino pages, sports website, news pages on gambling, pages on the “internet gambling regulation act” and how it will affect your online website, laws governing gambling and paying close attention to the dates the country each specific information pertains to and so on.

By now you must be thinking this is a bit to extreme. But ask yourself this: do you know what each gambler want, do you know what will make them use your site over the next Joe website. Simply put you need to know the things that will drive advertisers, sponsors to your site (funding) and most importantly what will drive users to your site. You can have the best house on the block but if not one knows about your house or you, well you get the picture.

If you have visited the suggested headings listed above and read up a bit more on gambling and the laws governing online sports book, casinos, poker rooms and betting exchanges and still wish to continue then read on my friend, you have gotten over the first hurdle. Now that we have you thinking outside the box and have a better understanding on what’s in store for you lets tackle the first and very most important question you would first need answered “Is gambling legal”.

Now this is the most important because if you are thinking of conducting or running a gambling website in a country, city, state, province, town, what ever it may be and its not legal. Like monopoly you will be fined or worst you will go directly to jail. Sorry boys and girls but we need to make one thing clear here being online business doesn’t mean a thing to the government and the authorities. You will need to register a business or acquire a business license (not the same as a gambling license), you will need hosting and you will need a bank account to hold the money generated from your sports book, betting exchange, poker or casino website. So finding out if gambling is legal where will be running your business is extremely important.

To give you a better picture of things 9/10 planning to run a gambling website have had to opt for an offshore operation. Why you ask? Well that obvious of course. In places like Costa Rica there are laws in place for gambling, but there are no law against online gambling neither is there a need for a gambling license (more on gambling license later), but you will again have to do your research, if you are serious about running a sports book or any of the other gambling websites, prepare yourself to gather information. Here is Tip #1 – Speak to a Lawyer (a reputable one if you can) they will shed a LOT of light on your situation and point you in the right direction.

So this brings us to our next question, licensing, and no its not your drivers license. A gambling license is required to run a betting exchange, sports book, casino, poker or any other gambling website most of the time but not always. This is why again you will need to do your research. But you know what they say, when in doubt get one. That was a joke Joe. If you are really unsure speak to that lawyer friend that you spoke to in tip #1 about this and any other documents you may need to complete this process, ask your local gambling or gaming authorities/associations in the jurisdiction where you plan to run your online gambling website for advise. So remember a gambling license is recommended but may not be required. Tip #2 Visit the local gambling authorities.

By now you should have gathered enough information to get you on the right track and keep you out of jail or worst a state prison.

Let us touch on a few more key areas on running your own gambling website. You will need some (the more the better) research and marketing to be done. But haven’t you already gathered enough of your own research? No Joe. That was just information gathering, getting your feet wet, getting to know how the industry thinks. Don’t assume anything. There are rules to every game, and yes there are rules to running an online business and especially a sports book, betting exchange, poker room or casino. Just because you know a little about running a website, the rules and strategies change for each business, and you will definitely need to know about these rules if you are even dreaming of becoming successful in the online gaming and gambling industry. This doesn’t mean visiting all those forums and readings were for nothing, they will definitely help when you are ready to run your advertising and marketing campaign, you will be more than glad that you did.

If you have not already done a business and/or marketing plan this will more than likely lead to the development of one. Getting to know your target market, trends, location, gender, users’ habits, wants and dislikes etc will all help you to become better aware of your strategies and help in your success. So hire a reputable marketing company or speak with a friend or someone in the marketing field that can shed a bit more light on your exact situation and point you in a better direction. You don’t want to find out the hard way that the market you were targeting does not care much for gambling. Tip #3 Get proper research done.

This brings us to our next area of interest “staff or team”. From your information gathering and research you must have realized that ever if you may want to make this a one man show you will need a team or some sort of staff. Now a team does not mean you have to hire on a full time staff. Even big time giants like Microsoft, IBM, Logitech contracts out from time to time. It just means you will need a little more than just yourself in certain areas. Even if you know the gambling world it would be wise to contract some professionals in key areas (even if its for a little while) to show you some hidden places you have not yet covered. You would definitely need a technical someone or a development company that will be able to handle any problems you may encounter, updates you may need for your website, programming you might require, designs you may want to give you that look and feel to set you apart from your competition etc. You will most likely need a bookie, bookmaker, (maybe more than one) who knows about bookmaking to set, update, prepare events, lines and odds on your sports book, casino, betting exchange or poker website. So a team or individual staff is definitely a must, but can be inexpensive if you plan properly and consider contracting. Tip #4 Put together a proper team.

Now we’ve touched a bit on your website, but what sort of website or software will you require. The next on our list will be Software. First ask yourself what sort of gambling website will this be; A full Casino, poker, Betting Exchange, sports book or better yet why not all? This is where your research and information gathering comes into play, review ask questions, speak to your lawyer, and make a solid decision. What are the risk factors, who are my competitors, where do you get my line feeds from? Those are all questions that should have been included in your research and answered by now.

After that is settled it is now time to choose a development company that specializes in online gaming (more specific online gambling). Most if not all would already have products readily available that have been tested and will usually do modifications to fit your needs, it is usually more cost effective than having a website developed and put together from beginning to end. Software can range in prices, expect to pay between EUR 10,000 EUR to EUR 60,000 EUR. Some places of interest may be: Playtech (Rated for their Casino software), E-Prompt C’s BetMore – BetMore Software (Rated for its betting exchange & sports book software), Microgaming (Rated for their poker software). Tip #5 Get good software.

Well that should be it. But lets not forget the last and one of the most important on our list “Financing”. Sports book, betting exchange, poker, and casino websites are by far the most expensive business operations you can ever run, and this does not change the facts for an online operation. You do not need a building, but you will need hosting, you do not need slot machines but you will need software, you do not need cashiers but you will need payment merchants and/or gateways. Speak to your lawyer, speak with your marketing and research team, they will give you pointers to get funding, you will definitely require money to run this business constantly, so find sponsors, investors that will partner with you unless of course you have the cash and is willing to use your own money, Here is a hint you will need more than just EUR 500K EUR. Tip #6 Get funding.

So you see it’s not rocket science but it goes without saying with my final Tip to you: “Don’t fail to plan, it would only lead to you planning to fail”.

Good luck!