|Christiansen Capital Advisors, a market research firm, estimated that online wagering amounted to US$5.7 billion last year, an increase of 42 percent over 2002. Half of those wagers came from US bettors.|
The analyst firm expects online betting to be up better than 30 percent again in 2004 with double-digit increases each year until 2010, when the market is pegged to be worth US$18.4 billion.
It is these kinds of numbers, that are building the momentum for the online casino market, besides politicians, the NCAA and anti-gambling lobbies who are vowing to hold back online gambling, with the mainstream media are no longer accepting ads from offshore online casinos.
While millions are wagered online each day from the US, members of Congress, sports organizations such as the NCAA and some federal prosecutors believe they can still hold back the growth of Internet gambling.
The legal blockade by the government has spun off huge online gambling operations in unregulated environments such as the Antigua and Costa Rica, which removes the chance that consumer fraud protections will be in place. Even some opponents of online gambling concede that forcing it offshore isn't going to stop the problem.
‘We don't want it around at all to regulate. Regulation regarding the legitimacy of the book or getting your money back -- we couldn't care less about that,’ says Bill Saum, director of agent, gambling and amateurism activity for the NCAA. Last year 1.6 million bets were placed on the tournament for a total of US$96 million.
‘It's definitely a stepping stone,’ says Simon Noble, CEO of BetWWTS.com. Clearly, legalization would lead to even more betting online. Many potential customers are probably rightly nervous about giving their bank account information to an offshore operation – that’s the reason that the online gambling sites are so interested in winning legal status. David Carruthers, CEO of BetonSports.com, says he will move his operations to the US in 4 weeks from Costa Rica, if the US government is amicable.