In the 1990s, online gambling was widely popular and seemed to be an end-run around government control. Operators set up shops in an offshore jurisdiction and anyone with an internet connection could place bets. However, despite the apparent ease of access, some countries have tried to impose regulations on the industry. Eventually, Congress and the Department of Justice began exploring online gambling regulations. But the process of enacting new laws and enforcing existing ones proved to be incredibly difficult.
Today, 56 countries have laws that regulate online gambling. Ten countries have even banned it altogether. Most websites, therefore, have geo-blocking technology in place to block those from banned countries. There are many reasons why a country makes online gambling illegal, and the motivations vary from country to country. Nearly all countries with a majority of Muslims have banned traditional gambling. Other countries are either lacking legislation or infrastructure to prevent online gambling. Regardless of the reasons for regulating online gambling, there are a number of factors that should be considered when making a decision.
The main prerequisite to participate in online gambling is a computer with an internet connection. Early versions of the industry supported only Windows-based PCs. However, as technology advanced, more gambling websites began supporting Mac systems. As a result, a range of computer types and platforms are now available, ranging from laptops to smartphones. Those who are concerned about the health effects of gambling must be wary of ignoring the problem or enabling it to continue to grow.
Regulation of online gambling has several benefits. It enhances consumer protection and increases tax revenues. Despite the widespread nature of online gambling, its popularity is still relatively low. Yet, participation is growing rapidly in regulated sites. In Australia, the prevalence of online gambling rose from one percent in 1999 to eight percent in 2011 – a dramatic increase. In the UK, 16 percent of respondents had participated in at least one type of online gambling in the last four weeks.
In the US, New Jersey was the first state to approve legal online gambling. It is home to a dozen legal online sportsbooks and a handful of licensed poker rooms. New York, meanwhile, is working on legalizing online sports betting. Governor Andrew Cuomo added online wagering to his state’s budget, and lawmakers are considering the issue in the near future. There are some interesting developments in the online gambling industry in New Jersey and other states.
The relationship between internet gambling and mental health is not known, but several studies in Sweden did not support the idea that it would attract people with gambling problems. These studies also showed that offline gamblers had a greater likelihood of reporting health and psychological impacts from problem gambling. It is important to conduct longitudinal research to learn more about the effects of internet gambling on mental health and gambling behavior. Further, Internet gambling is becoming more common among young people. This means that it may increase the proportion of problem gamblers, but only if research takes into account the effects of Internet gambling.