The Internet Gaming Debate Revisited

Since 2006 internet bingo players have been faced with a wide variety of problems caused by Federal anti-online gambling legislation. Many American players suddenly found themselves locked out of their favorite internet bingo sites. While the law did not ban internet bingo and gaming it made it difficult for American players to find payment processors willing to provide deposit and withdrawal options for their internet bingo accounts.  Online payment processors such as Neteller ran afoul of federal regulations and [paid hefty fines and two Neteller executives were actually arrested while traveling through the Unites States.  The actions of American law enforcement agencies sent a chilling breeze through the online payment industry.

The latest casualty of these vague regulations was the well known eWalletXpress which had become the payment processor of choice for many Americans that play bingo online. Just like the Neteller fiasco many Americans have found their accounts frozen and it may be months before they will be able to recover their money. At first the Canadian based company told players there were ‘technical difficulties’ but this pretense could only hold up for so long. Then the company said it was exiting the US market because of ‘legislative concerns.’

It is hard for many to understand the American government’s intransigence when it comes to internet bingo and gaming. The law sparked a conflict with Antigua where many sites are based. The World Trade Organization has sided with Antigua but the US has ignored all of the WTO rulings against it. The United States is standing virtually alone in its stance against internet gaming. Many thought that the election of Obama would bring change but the global financial meltdown put online gaming concerns on the legislative back burner.

Opponents of internet bingo and gaming couch their objections with ‘moral’ overtones and compare internet bingo and gaming to drug addiction and other social ills. Study after study has demolished most of the arguments against online gaming. American players see the issue as one of personal liberty and say that government intervention in this area is not appropriate. Recent estimates say that a legalized and taxed online gaming industry would provide the US treasury with billions annually. Despite the regulations millions of Americans continue to play internet bingo and visit online casinos. Along with most liberals many conservatives are in favor of taxing and regulating internet bingo and gaming and hopefully they will take action soon.