Online betting has brought about considerable changes in the general mechanics of betting on major sports and other events, but the underlying principles remain pretty much the same. Still, the internet has made things rather slipperier than they were before, and the introduction of online sportsbooks has begun to create headaches for lawmakers and regulators. It was already questionable whether they really could keep a rein or some form of control on the betting industry. But now with the introduction of the internet, and the resulting changes in the ways of making bets and receiving payouts, a whole new can of worms has been opened.
Sportsbooks began as literal books, or ledgers, where people’s bets were written down. When sport betting grew as an organized industry, the term continued to be used, and gave rise to words like “bookmaker” and “bookie.” Thus, “sportsbooks” now encompass the odds set for an event by the bookmaker, the official organization that establishes those odds, and the location where the bets are placed. Before internet betting came into the picture, the sportsbook organizations were tied to physical locations, mostly in Nevada casinos because such organizations weren’t legal elsewhere. But of course the internet has changed all that.
Sportsbooks previously would have allowed a person to bet on sports that took place both locally and nationally, but adding in the online component has multiplied the possibilities almost beyond imagination. The person can go well beyond betting on the NFL or NBA, and can now engage in online betting on World Cup soccer, for example. But as they deal with glitzy looking websites whose background and credibility they can’t research, they also face the risk of dealing with some shady characters. So they must be very cautious.
An extra complication that Americans have to deal with if they do any online betting is their own government’s attempts to prevent them from doing so. Thus far, the gambling laws passed by the government mainly target the banks; forbidding them to allow any funds to flow between them and any type of online gambling sites. But since citizens continue to find ways to play on the sites anyway, it’s likely that the government will revise those laws to legalize and regulate the industry instead.
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