Regulation of online gambling supported by respected publication

The Economist opines that bans will not work, and it is better to legalise, tax and regulate a popular pastime

The respected UK business and economics publication 'The Economist' criticised attempts in other countries to ban online gambling this week in a leader article pointing out the advantages of properly licensed and regulated internet gambling activity.

Noting that history has shown that prohibition of a popular pastime - the alcohol bans in the United States for example - rarely works, the article goes on to examine the difficulties faced in enforcing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in the United States, and the workarounds that have developed to overcome government attempts to disrupt financial flows to so-called 'illegal' internet gambling websites.

"...after a brief dip, Americans are now betting online about as much as they did four years ago. The Justice Department still maintains that online gambling is illegal, yet large numbers of Americans carry on regardless. The reason is simple: anyone who wants to gamble and has an internet connection can do so," The Economist points out, illustrating its point with some statistical facts.

The piece discusses the motivation of those seeking to kill off this modern evolution of gambling, opining that commercial protectionism and a fear of competition is a real element. It also poses the question of whether punters are better protected by banning the pastime and driving it underground, as is happening in the United States, or properly regulating and taxing it as is done by more enlightened governments such as the United Kingdom and a growing number of European states.

Online poker is particularly singled out as an example of a gambling genre that, thanks to modern media coverage, has grown from 'a niche game with a rather louche reputation' to a booming one, rightfully respected for the mental agility and improvisation it requires.”

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