American legislators are becoming increasingly concerned about websites for gambling and betting online. For decades, casinos and other gambling establishments were safely contained in brick-and-mortar locations, where a close eye could theoretically be kept on them. They might have extended their reach beyond those locations by phone, fax or other means, but they could be regulated and monitored. With the swift, massive growth of the internet, however, that all changed. Moreover, taking the existing gambling laws and applying them effectively to this new situation is proving to be difficult.
In 2006, Congress passed a law that was meant to ban the means people used for placing online bets. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act effectively forbids American banks to transfer funds to or from any online gambling site. This meant Americans theoretically couldn’t place bets, even on websites registered in other countries and entirely legal there. American government protectionism has even gone so far as to prompt the arrest of executives of any company taking American money, if they set foot on American soil. Once this law passed, all gambling sites publicly listed on stock exchanges stopped taking bets from American customers. However, most privately-owned sites still allowed Americans to place bets.
And more than a few people noticed a bit of selectivity in how Congress wrote this law that supposedly blocked all betting online. For some reason, the ban wasn’t universal, with certain types of online gaming and gambling still allowed. And those exemptions, such as horse racing, fantasy sports sites, Indian gaming and state lotteries, just happened to be types of gambling the government received revenue from already. It wasn’t surprising that a few eyebrows were raised.
Despite the way this law blocking betting online and other online gambling was rushed through, it still hasn’t gone into effect. Instead, Democrat Barney Frank is attempting to create a new gambling law that would allow online gambling and subject it to government regulation. Meanwhile, Republican Spencer Bachus and others vow to block Frank’s legislation, issuing dire warnings about today’s youth, and making no explanation why they aren’t trying to repeal the laws allowing state lotteries and betting on horse races. The year 2010 could be pivotal for gambling on the internet, with legislative shenanigans already well underway.
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