Hit Me . . . Online Gambling a Gamble or Sure Bet? (An Overview)
Here’s a thought for beer, a ‘dog, and debate:
If Pete Rose had used online gambling – discretely betting on baseball via the Internet instead of using bookies – would he ever have been caught?
Would he have run afoul of MLB’s Rule 21 – the specific rule, publicly posted on all major-league dugout walls, which is against gambling in baseball? Would he have been “declared permanently ineligible” for Cooperstown?
Who’s to say?
What can be said is that global online gambling – also known as Internet gambling or iGambling – is so successful ($30 billion in revenues in 2012) and widespread that it may soon outstrip the growth rate of the worldwide traditional gambling industry itself.
But if the online gambling dollar amount seems big (and it is), consider these overall economic crunch numbers:
– Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, an international, non-partisan consulting agency, estimates worldwide gambling revenues – including the Internet’s – may total a staggering $419 billion this year. (This is an estimate – gambling in China, and elsewhere in Asia, is not internally monitored with the same scrutiny as here in the U.S. – but according to many, the figure is pretty accurate.)
– China may boast the biggest gambling revenues – somewhere in excess of $120 billion – and the U.S. is number two, with revenues exceeding $80 billion.
– That still leaves the rest of the world with an excess of $200 billion in gambling revenues.
Why this global gambling frenzy? Analysts point to the uncertain worldwide economy. Because of this looming, constant economic uncertainty, gambling – in its all forms – has become more and more alluring to so many.
And online gambling’s specific success? It may boil down to two things:
– It is extremely appealing to gamblers because of easy Internet access. This means it is also discrete. (No more running to a casino or the neighborhood bookie to roll some dice or place a bet. Now, with the Internet, public exposure is virtually eliminated.)
– It is extremely attractive to investors and to entrepreneurs because of its high rate of commercial growth. (Projected interactive – online – gambling, in one year’s time, will surge ahead with a 42 % growth rate, while the traditional gambling industry itself will top off at only 15 %.)
According to the reputable U.S. audit, tax and advisory services firm KPMG:
The online gaming business is progressively moving into markets around the world, changing the [overall] model of the gambling industry as many consumers turn to the Internet to bet on sports, gamble on slots, or play cards.
One thing is certain: The “gold rush” market of online gambling hasn’t peaked. Thanks to the Internet, new geographic regions are opening up constantly. Software programs are regularly being created or upgraded. Thanks to technology, mobile devices are now becoming easy platforms for online gambling (with new gambling Apps being available all the time) . Many governments are becoming more receptive to Internet-based gaming.
To fill out this overview of online gambling, the present online gaming market includes a number of familiar games, each with its own particular business model and technology. These include:
– Sports betting: Betting on sporting events such as games, horse races, dog races, etc.
– Online poker: Just as with traditional poker at a casino, the website provider often takes a commission from wagers.
– Casino games: All games of chance – such as slot machines, roulette or blackjack – which operate in the same manner as at a traditional casino.
– Online bingo: A web-based version of the same old game which is played at church functions and civic centers as well as authorized gambling locations.
– Online lottery: Online versions of (frequently) government-sponsored or sanctioned lotteries.
But this brief synopsis would not be complete without also noting the darker side of online gambling.
Internet gambling lacks regulation. No single authority regulates this worldwide activity. Maybe it’s just too big, too complex, for that kind of mega-oversight. But the consequence is that online gambling is vulnerable, prey to predators such as network hackers. These hackers can gain easy access to the confidential information of network users. Online gambling activities, which always involve online money transactions, therefor are exposed to hacker attacks.
As well as this, it has been alleged that the vast, mostly-unsupervised, electronic transfer of funds everyday is frequently being exploited by criminal interests here and overseas, in order to launder large amounts of money. It has been declared, by government agencies tasked with monitoring and supervising online gambling, that these criminal activities help fund terror cells, drug cartels, and other criminal activities.
In reaction, groups such as the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership – member countries include the U.S., Japan, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore, and Vietnam – may want to bring about a form of global Internet censorship. One harsh proposal has even called for banning an Internet user for life – if it could be proved he or she is involved with any illegal Internet activity, even unwittingly.
The question immediately arises: Does any individual or group have the right to regulate Internet gambling – beyond safeguarding the rights of Internet users? (Unlike in baseball, Rule 21 doesn’t apply here.) To be fair, this is a gray, shadowy area, and government agencies are often hard-pressed to keep separate lawful gambling from predatory interests. But what of the unsuspecting individual whose money may have been steered into the wrong hands? How much is he or she accountable?
Maybe Pete Rose would like to know. For him – as he has maintained always – it was never about money, it was only about the thrill. He was betting on baseball – not aiding and abetting criminal activity.
Would discrete online gambling have tainted his career? Truth is, “Mr. Hustle” may have had a gambling problem – call it an addiction – so who’s to say what the Internet might have done to cover up or to magnify that addiction? Truth is, we will never know.
But this is what many forward-thinking, intelligent individuals and interest groups are presently wondering and talking about: What is the impact, going forward, of Internet gambling on our society overall? Is it causing an escalating number of gambling addicts who are getting in way over their heads? The repercussions could be enormous.
The Blanch Law Firm is already asking these hard questions.