Online gambling is any type of gambling conducted over the internet. This includes casinos, online poker and online sports betting among others. The first online gambling site open to the public, was lottery ticketing in October 1994. Online gambling became more popular with the release of several Baccarat websites that offered game deals in variations such as progressive jackpot games. These websites attracted a great number of players and attracted increasing numbers of casino players who were drawn by the attractive offers of the progressive jackpots.
To address the growing needs for gambling sites, several gambling sites were established across the United States. New laws were drafted to regulate online gambling in the United States. As a result many laws were relaxed and made legal in the state of Delaware, the home of the world famous Internet Casino, online poker in the state of Delaware and online lotteries in the state of New Jersey. The legalized recreational casinos included video poker and bingo from several websites. The progressive jackpot games made legal in the United States were later introduced in several states in the form of instant poker games.
When the new online gambling site industry began to grow, a number of laws were passed to protect these new enterprises. In the United States, the Gambling Expansion Act was passed which placed some additional limitations on the operation of online gambling sites. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act made it easier for people to access information about the investigation and reporting of gambling activities and also created a system by which all U.S. corporations would be required to register and report their financial activities. The Department of Justice created the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act which imposed harsher penalties against those who attempted to obtain private information that was not intended to be disclosed. The Act also imposed greater penalties for anyone who obtained private information for use contrary to the provisions of the Act. Several states adopted tough anti-gambling legislation aimed at reducing the volume of gambling take place on their local streets.
Today there are a number of states that allow online gambling and the operation of online casinos. Many states prohibit both online gambling and live gaming but many others have no problem with it. An example of this is North Carolina which legalized online poker but nevertheless allows live casinos. Most states in the United States allow the operation of gambling, horse racing and online sports betting but several states have very restrictive measures in place. One example is Mississippi which limits both software sales and live gaming while other states have no restrictions on either situation. However, some states, such as Arizona which has a mixed stand with regards to both activities.
The most restrictive stand is in regard to online casinos with the only exception being that wagering is allowed by virtue of the provision of an electronic communication or “wire act” between a resident and an online casino. This is often referred to as the “Wagner Law” after the former Wachovia Bank. Although, this law was considered by the states to be in place to protect the resident from “stealing” winnings from an online casino, critics argue that it essentially punishes law abiding citizens for illegal conduct. For example, it is not unusual for a gambler to transfer funds to a high rollers account knowing that the winnings from such activity will be deducted before the player can use that winnings to gamble. With today’s sophisticated software programs, thieves have access to the personal details of anyone who plays the game and therefore can easily steal money from the accounts of honest players. This is one reason why the “wire act” is very important to all players and why they should always play online in a safe environment and use proper forms of personal identification.
As with all consumer protection areas there is a wide range of opinions on whether online gambling sites should be regulated. Proponents argue that the current laws surrounding credit cards are too strict and prevent consumers from enjoying a bit of online fun from time to time. Opponents argue that credit cards allow gamblers to use their credit cards to transfer money to gamblers and therefore under the current laws they are not acting as honest and law abiding consumers, they are instead criminal enterprises that are taking advantage of the vulnerable state of consumers with weak financial skills.