Gambling in Cyberspace
Depending on its cultural and historical perspective, gambling has taken various forms of defining itself. Gambling to western societies is economic in nature and typically refers to the betting of money or anything of material value with the hope of doubling or getting more of the bet given. Gambling differs on four aspects: the money or material goods being wagered, the amount of the bet, the predictability of the event and the expected price (“Gambling”, 2006b).
Generally, in human psychology, gambling is either a form of deviant behavior or an extension of normal behavior. For the former, gambling is seen as an abnormality. Risking money on uncertainties, organized crimes and violence arising from huge gambling debts make gambling detrimental to ones self interest. On the other hand, when seen as an integral part of daily life and is considered as a leisure activity the driving force of gambling becomes more instinctual and rational (“The Psychology of Gambling”, n.d.).
It is believed that gambling has been practiced by people throughout history and anthropologists claim that early civilization’s attitude towards gambling is based on how they see their environment. The world to them is governed by supernatural beings who on their hands control chance situations (“Gambling”, 2005).
Recreation is usually the main justification of people who are gambling. But it can be psychologically addictive and potentially be harmful. The reinforcement phenomena is an illustration of this where after repeated losses, the gamblers would still persist to play. These and other negativities tagged to gambling created an alternate term, “gaming” (“Gambling”, 2006).
Moral, religious and social issues surrounding gambling have led to its censorship in terms of legal jurisdictions. Islamic nations prohibit it but most countries regulate its practice. Many laws that either ban or heavily control of gambling have consequently resulted to gambling tourism and illegal gambling (“Gambling”, 2006b).
The social acceptance of gambling as a form of entertainment has, however, increased especially in the United States. The emergence of internet has in fact made gambling more accessible. Online gambling, also known as internet gambling and i-gaming, allowed gamblers to use their credit cards to bet on their favorite games of chance, play the lottery and the like (“Gambling”, 2006a). There is a plethora of gambling available in the internet – online poker, online casinos, online sports betting and online bingo. Following online gambling is the creation and development of mobile gambling where wireless or mobile devices may now be used to gamble (“Online gambling”, 2006).
With the use of credit card or debit card, gamblers would normally upload funds online, make bets or play games and later on cash out winnings. For cases where credit cards are not accepted, there are intermediary companies like Firepay, Neteller and Moneybookers which offer online gambling accounts. Another form of payment is through check and wire transfer (“Online gambling”, 2006).
In 1999, the National Gambling Impact Study of the United States investigated the link between availability and problem gambling reporting that “the presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers.” If this is true, easy access of gambling through the internet could thus increase problem gambling. The high-speed instant gratification and high level of privacy of online gambling could also worsen the problem (“Online gambling”, 2006). Aside from that, online gambling has been associated with a considerable number of scams especially so that it involves money and personal information (“Gambling”, 2006a).
In many countries like the United Kingdom, online gambling is legal and regulated. The United States Federal Appeals Court declared that the Federal Wire Act prohibits the transfer of information electronically for sports betting across state lines. Otherwise, there are no other laws prohibiting gambling although some states have certain laws against online gambling. Its operation should be validated by licenses but there are no states granting online gaming licenses (“Online gambling”, 2006).
The government of Antigua and Barbuda which provides licenses for internet gambling protested to the World Trade Organization against the actions of the US government hampering online gaming. The WTO appeals panel then ruled that the US may be violating global trade rules and added that the online gambling restrictions imposed were inconsistent with the trade body’s GATS services agreement (“Online gambling”, 2006).
Deputy Assistant Attorney General John G. Malcolm made a testimony on March 2003 before the Senate Banking Committee presenting the problems that could result from online gambling. Online money laundering is one main concern of the United States Department of Justice. The use of encryption and the anonymous nature of the internet make such online money laundering transactions difficult to track (“Online gambling”, 2006).
Gambling is mostly a problem by itself and issues concerning its legality along with its blurry moral and social acceptability have not yet been resolved. And the introduction of online gambling have brought along with it new sets of problems. Gambling has never been accepted fully to most countries and online gambling which made itself very accessible to people have fueled controversies even more. Nevertheless, it seems that the continuous proliferation of online gambling can never be stopped. Not any time soon. And unless we’ll finally be able to reconcile both the positive and negative sides of gambling it will remain as it is – boon or bane.
“Gambling”. 2005. Microsoft Encarta Premium Suite 2005. Microsoft Corp.
“Gambling”. 2006a. Ashes Casino. Retrieved 26 May 2006 from http://www.ashescasino.com/gambling.html
“Gambling”. 2006b. Wikipedia. Retrieved 26 May 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambling
“Online Gambling”. 2006. Wikipedia. Retrieved 26 May 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_gambling
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