US research body underlines legality of internet gambling

The Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute has released a position paper arguing that online gambling is legal in the US despite public misconceptions, and that the Internet gaming industry has been unjustifiably black-balled by US politicians who use fear as a means for furthering anti-online gambling moves.

Ironically, much of danger attributed to online gambling is a direct result of the actions of the US government, the CEI opines, giving as an example the 2007 pursuit by the Department of Justice of Neteller which resulted in long delayed payments to players and the withdrawal from the market of a respectable cash processing facility.

The CEI paper asserts that regulation does exist in online gambling, as both industry groups and a number of foreign governments have established strict sets of rules for Internet casinos to follow. Ratings systems and mediation are available for disputes, and online gambling communities perform useful watchdog functions, as the discovery by 2+2 detectives of the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet scandals illustrates.

The point is strongly made that publicly listed and reputable companies registered on European stock exchanges are subject to control and oversight, yet many have been forced out of the US marklet by government anti-gambling initiatives.

CEI emphasises that only Internet sports gambling is specifically forbidden by US federal law, and only Washington and Utah have state blanket laws against online gambling. "The UIGEA does not make patronizing Internet casinos illegal, it tries to prevent financial institutions from making deposits to these casinos." a spokesman said.

The CEI paper comes to the conclusion that online gaming suffers from being a relatively new and unfamiliar technology oriented industry, but carries traditional stigmas against gambling. When these are combined with a perception of the Internet's widespread nature and fears of change, a negative reaction can occur among the conservatively minded.

But the change has come, and it is time for US politicians to accept new circumstances rather than appealing to ignorance and fear, the paper opines.

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