Gambling experts told a congressional panel that efforts to ban Internet gambling would prove ineffective, due to the unrestricted nature of online business. The group instead recommended that congress introduce a program of regulation and consumer protection to the industry, to help alleviate fears of underage gambling or fraud.
Gambling on the Internet has been criticised for its lack of security against underage participants and its encouragement of gambling addiction. Self-regulation is very much a part of online gaming, yet without the comfort of any actual legal guidelines the online gaming industry is still open to accusation.
Efforts to ban Internet gaming have failed before, mostly due to industry opposition and the freedom of Internet enterprise. The latest attempts to damage the industry have come through a proposed ban by credit card companies that prevents any transactions at online gaming sites. However the introduction of alternative payment methods such as ClearChex and Paypal means that Internet gamblers no longer necessarily need to use their credit cards to bet.
Internet gambling operations have grown at an incredible rate over the last decade, from only an estimated 25 sites in the mid 1990’s to approximately 1,400 today according to market research by Bear Stearns. Many of these sites are operated offshore, out of U.S jurisdiction, and the industry is now worth an estimated $2.2 billion. With the proliferation of online sites now available for those who want to gamble, the call for a ban on the business seems not only impractical but also illogical, as it is an industry that itself would benefit from regulation and protection to inspire consumer confidence and peace of mind.