The United States Department of Justice recently announced that advertising for online gambling activities is a violation of the Wire Act, which covers all forms of Internet gambling. This move is viewed by some as an overreach in the area of free speech, while others say that it has no legal basis. In the meantime, online gambling websites are increasingly promoting responsible gambling and allowing players to set their own loss limits and self-exclude. In addition, laws require gambling platforms to be governed by reputable bodies, which can effectively deal with any misconduct.
While many land-based casinos offer similar games and a variety of options for gambling, online gambling sites tend to offer many advantages. Some of these benefits include hassle-free sign-up and banking, an extensive selection of games, and sports betting opportunities. However, the most important aspect of online gambling is safety. A lot of online gambling sites employ the use of secure encryption software and use password-protected accounts to protect players. Furthermore, they also guarantee payouts and have fair bonus policies.
Online gambling has been around for several years and gained popularity in the late 1990s. By 1998, there were over 200 websites offering gambling and a Frost & Sullivan study showed that online gambling revenues had surpassed $830 million in 1998. The introduction of online poker rooms was also a significant milestone for online gambling. However, a US senator introduced legislation in 1999 to ban online gambling for U.S. citizens. Multiplayer online gambling also came online in 1999.
In the United States, gambling is legal in 48 states. Nevertheless, there are a few states that do not allow gambling for legal reasons. Some states, including Hawaii and Utah, have religious climates that are anti-gambling. However, it is expected that most territories will soon legalize Internet sports betting and poker.
The legality of online gambling has been in question for quite some time. The Wire Act of 1961 is largely ineffective at controlling internet-based gambling. Its provisions, however, do not define what constitutes an internet-based gambling site. In the past, it was believed that the Federal Wire Act prohibited all forms of online gambling, including lottery betting and online casinos.
In April 2007, Rep. Barney Frank introduced HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Consumer Protection Act. This bill would change the UIGEA to allow internet gambling businesses to be licensed and taxed. Interestingly, it would not prohibit internet gambling businesses from accepting wagers from the United States. Another bill, known as the Skill Game Protection Act, would clarify the Wire Act to exempt certain forms of gambling.
Internet gambling increased from 15 websites in 1996 to 200 websites in 1997. The introduction of online poker rooms in 1999 further contributed to the growth of online gambling. By 2001, internet gambling had reached eight million users. By 2008, online gambling revenues had reached $21 billion. In 2015, it is estimated that more than half of the global gambling market is accounted for by online casinos.