Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why Legalizing Internet Gambling Just Won't Work

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The battle over Internet gambling that has been taking place in the past fifteen years now even has legislators divided between both sides of the issue.  On one side some elected officials see Internet gambling as an easy source of new tax revenue.  On the opposing side are those legislators who still have concerns grave enough to keep existing bans on Internet gambling in place.

Surely enough most web sites that let people play poker for free wouldn't exist if there is at least some potential that they will some day be allowed to let people to play for real money.  Despite the potential for new tax revenue and high paying IT jobs there would be more pitfalls than benefits from lifting bans on Internet gambling. 

Games in real world casinos are tested by government regulators to ensure that players have a fair chance of winning.  Their online counterparts are not scrutinized to ensure that odds are not unfairly tilted in favor of the house.  The rigorous video security used in casinos doesn't just check for players who are cheating but dealers as well.  It's this system of checks and balances insures that casino gaming is being played fairly, Internet gambling has no such system.

Casinos, Lotteries, Bingos, and Horse Racing are all regulated to prevent minors from partaking in gambling.  Internet gambling has no definite way to ensure that all players are of legal age.  While bets are made with a credit card which is a method of age restriction since one has to be eighteen to hold a credit card, but anybody who can get a hold of a credit card even if it's somebody else's credit card can make a bet.  In most jurisdictions in the United States the legal age for gambling is 21 years of age.  For those between 18-20 they can legally hold a credit card but legally cannot gamble makes using a credit card as a method of age verification ineffective.

The new tax revenue from Internet gambling that legislators want use to fill government coffers with may not be as generous source of new money that legislators make it out to be.  Internet gambling companies like any other business can find the jurisdiction with the lowest tax rates, tax rates low enough to attract online gambling operators will probably be found in the island nations of the Caribbean or Eastern Europe where they operate from now.

Legalizing Internet gambling will open a Pandora's box of pitfalls both known and unknown.  A decision to allow people to bet online must not be made blindly.    

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