Online Gambling involves the use of a computer or other electronic device to place wagers on games of chance. Examples include online lottery tickets, keno, and casino games such as poker and blackjack. While online gambling can be enjoyable and safe for many, it is important to be aware of the risks involved. For some, it can become a serious addiction.
When the World Wide Web emerged in the 1990s, Online Gambling seemed like a potential end-run around state-level laws and prohibition. A website operator simply needed to set up shop in a friendly offshore jurisdiction and begin accepting bets via credit card. This was possible because of technological advances and the emergence of a global communications network.
While Internet gambling is not a new phenomenon, it has been growing in popularity and scope since its onset. Its increasing prevalence is partly due to the increased availability of mobile devices, which have made it easier to gamble on the go. Additionally, a number of factors have contributed to concerns that Internet gambling may contribute to problem gambling. These include the ability to place large wagers, the ease of tracking wins and losses, the availability of a constant flow of action, and its ability to disrupt sleep and eating patterns.
While some states have enacted laws to regulate online gambling, others have not. In the United States, federal laws, such as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), prohibit banks from processing payments to online betting sites. The UIGEA is currently being challenged in the courts, and several bills have been introduced to modify it.