Should online casino gambling be legal? Is a little computer game of Poker or Blackjack hurting anyone? Are addictions to slot machines destroying people? These seem to be the questions on the mind of many gamers and politicians these days, as the United States Federal Government passes more and more laws mandating the public’s use of the internet.
Our Great Government
For the proponents of a free internet, government regulations are destroying the last vestige of open communication. For credit card companies and online banking companies, the new laws bring a potentially heavy financial loss which may have to be passed on to consumers. To online casino owners, government taxes and regulations force them, and many other industries, to take their business elsewhere.
Perhaps there is even merit to the attempts by the U.S. to help prevent the corruptions of youth and the abuse of addiction from becoming a wide-spread phenomenon. What many people do not realize is that with freedom comes an awesome burden of responsibility. One cannot have one’s proverbial cake and eat it, too. Individual freedoms often come at the price of security, and must be sacrificed for the theoretical benefits of overzealous governing institutions. Perhaps the actual question to be asked is the perpetual question – how much does a government truly need to protect us from ourselves?
The History of Government vs. Gaming
Certainly the founding fathers and the writers of the United States Constitution never envisioned the federal government playing a roll in online casino games. Or did they? Rules governing gambling in the “New World” date back to the 1600’s, when the Church found it necessary to regulate clerical use of charity funds.
In the 18th Century, gaming and gambling (the latter to be differed from the former, as it implies the waging of money or property) were popular in the States and on the Continent. In fact, playing games for gain has been a human pastime since the beginning of human history.
In the United States, the bright lights of Las Vegas still shine as a beacon to those who want to play games of chance and hope for that Big Win. The bottom line is, playing games like poker, real money blackjack and dice have been a part of America’s culture from the start. It is unlikely that the writers of the original laws were prohibitionists of games any more than they were of liquor.
Therefore, one may assume that there was no original intent for the Federal Government to “make any law” concerning gambling. After all, online slots machines, roulette wheels and similar games – designed for the sole purpose of betting and winning money – have been around for some two centuries.
From whence, then, comes the right of the government to regulate online gambling? That is a stickier issue, for one can argue that the government has no right to regulate the internet at all. On the other hand, the U.S. Supreme Court has long since held that, thanks in much to the broadness of the Commerce Clause, the Federal government can superimpose “national” values on the State governments. In other words, although gambling can be made legal or illegal by State Law, the across-the-border nature of the internet makes it fair game (no pun intended) for federal interference.
And, to extend the issue, the World Wide Web makes all internet rules and regulations a matter for international discourse. The United States cannot hope to regulate an international multi-billion-dollar industry in any truly effective manner.
Regulation Hurts Players
It is probable, when all is said and done, that regulations concerning online casinos will hurt the average player without putting a dent in the industry. The small-time players who live far from a land casino, or who prefer a quick game of Video Poker over the state lottery, will find themselves shut out. And it is also probable that making online gambling illegal will also have the effect on casino games that Prohibition had on alcohol. People looking for the thrill of a game will simply turn to the thrill of a game which is illegal, and equivalent to “Gin Tubs” in the online casino world will pop up all over.
In the final analysis, it is hard to see what gain may come of making gambling online illegal. After all, is it not the smart government who realizes that “legalize it and tax it” is generally the way to go?
If you’re interested in learning more about the legalities of online casino gambling, then head on over to our online poker legal section. There, you will find a large amount of pages and videos about the legailities of online poker.