Have you seen those ads for websites that offer such games as Texas Hold ‘em, online poker, virtual slots, etc.? Have you been tempted to lay down a buck and take your chances? Before you do, there’s something you should know. Running an Internet gambling website is, for the most part, illegal in the United States.
However, despite the legal status of these websites, many Americans are visiting them everyday, wagering enormous amounts of money. But many questions arise from the use of these sites. Are they safe? Are they fair?
One of the biggest questions in regard to Internet gambling is how can these sites continue taking in (and, presumably, paying out) money if they are not legal to operate in the U.S.? Actually, this is not a problem for most companies; they simply establish an offshore company, usually based in a Central American or Caribbean country, and conduct their business from these friendly locales. The countries that cater to them benefit enormously from this business arrangement, as they collect taxes, fees, and peripheral revenue from the companies operating within their borders. This is no small amount of money, as the taxes on the revenues generated from Internet gambling can easily reach into the millions annually.
Are individual American states missing out on these revenue sources? You bet. The general consensus is that some states will soon enough take notice of these lost revenues, and take steps to legalize Internet gambling within their jurisdictions. Already, some gulf coast states are looking into ways to use gambling and casinos to take in more tax dollars. It would be no surprise if a state such as Louisiana becomes one of the first to start the process of legitimizing Internet gambling. It won’t be an easy task, but the benefits would be enormous.
This much is certain; Americans love to gamble. Billions are wagered annually in pari-mutuel events such as horse and dog racing, on sporting events such as football and basketball, and of course in the big gambling centers such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Restricting gambling has never worked, as the passion of the players has always won out. With the advancement of the technology that permits it, Internet gambling has been making up a larger and larger piece of the gambling pie.
Once Internet gambling is legalized here in the states, most the offshore companies will undoubtedly be falling all over themselves to organize stateside, eager to pay taxes here instead of abroad. An additional benefit of state acceptance will be the assurance of conformity to regulations, making Internet gambling a safer and fairer experience for all involved.
Regardless of legitimization by the individual states, there is no doubt the popularity of Internet gambling will continue to grow.