Ever since the very first internet or online casinos were launched in the mid-1990s, online gambling has been a controversial and often dividing topic in many quarters. While there are millions of people all over the world who support and love gambling online in its various forms, so there are millions who are dead set against online gambling.
Similarly, just as some governments have embraced the legalization and regulation of online gaming by passing pro-online gambling laws and legislation, many others have not, and some even actively seek out and prosecute online gamblers and operators alike. The question we’re posing is why some governments really don’t want you to gamble online?
The answer is a long and complex one because there are many factors involved which range from moralistic, protectionist and political to cultural, religious and fearful. In this article we’ll examine these 6 factors that independently and/or combined are regularly used by governments to justify their anti-online gambling sentiments, policies or stance.
Moralistic: Online Gambling and Underage Gambling
Well, this is nonsense. While underage gambling is undeniably a problem that the online gambling industry faces, the underlying issue lies not only with gambling sites, but also with the parents of underage gamblers for failing to monitor and/or control their internet habits, and even for leaving their online casino login details lying around.
Being remote or virtual entities, the various security checks and measures that online gambling sites have in place are only as good as the integrity of their users. In other words, if somebody logs into an online casino with a ‘borrowed’ username and password, or buys credits with a ‘borrowed’ credit card there is little casinos can do to pick this up.
One solution is for the parents or guardians of children to be more responsible. Just like responsible parents who keep their guns locked up, their liquor cabinets locked and don’t leave their cigarettes lying around, responsible parents who gamble online should always keep their login details private, and monitor all activity on their credits cards.
Protectionist : Online Gambling Hurts Land Gambling
The great thing about online casino sites from an operator standpoint is that they’re much more cost effective to run and manage than large or even medium or small land-based casino resorts. Unlike their land counterparts, online or mobile casinos don’t require buildings, parking lots, a large staff, restaurant or rest rooms to accommodate players.
All they need is some premium games, safe and secure banking methods, generous sign up bonuses, 24/7 customer care and to be licensed and regulated and they’re good to go. They don’t even need to be hosted in the same country or state to operate, which is why some governments justify their online gambling bans in the name of protectionism.
In other words, they’ve banned offshore online gambling to ‘protect’ their domestic land gambling industries that annually generate billions of dollars in taxable revenues. These governments have chosen to back land gambling over online gambling even though by doing so they lose out on vast taxable online gambling revenues and licensing fees.
Political: Politicians Put Themselves Before Citizens
In many cases the decision by governments not to liberalise and open up online gambling to the populace is purely political meaning it has little to do with what their citizens actually want. Too often unfortunately, the more ‘political’ an issue like online gambling legalization, the more it is about politicians seeking the path of least resistance.
Even in countries that are democracies, i.e. nations where people can actively participate in and precipitate change via freedom of speech and the ability to vote, politics can overshadow or bury an issue. In these countries, if hot topics like online gaming legalisation were put to a vote the people could decide for themselves – whether for or against.
The reality, however, is it’s impossible for any government to put every issue up for a public vote, which is why they fall to politicians to pass laws and regulations to best suit the needs of the society they represent. Unfortunately politicians often put don’t always put the people first. Consider the Prohibition in the US in the 1922 as a prime example.
Prohibition just does not work
Cultural: Not All Nations Favour the Online Gambling Revolution
Is it a coincidence that many countries with licensed and regulated online gambling industries have a history of gambling? We would argue it is not. The UK, for instance, has a long and proud gambling heritage in the form of bingo halls, lotteries, sports betting and land casinos, and has also embraced the ‘online gambling revolution’ instead of spurning it.
The UK adds millions of pounds in online gambling taxes and fees to its coffers each year, but not all countries are as forward-thinking. Australia, for instance, also has long gambling heritage, and yet 2017 saw the passing of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 to prevent offshore online gambling operators from targeting Australian players.
The bill came as a huge blow to online gamblers in Australia, especially since land-based games like pokies are still so prevalent in the nation. Said James Hemple from AustralianCasinoClub, “We’re hoping that one day soon the government will license and regulate online casinos and poker rooms so that players can play online with pride and freedom.”
Religious: Online Gambling is a Considered to be a Sin
There are also countries with governments that view online gambling negatively in a religious light, which means they see online gambling and even land gambling as a ‘sinful’ activity. In some nations players caught gambling online face imprisonment, mutilation and in some cases even death. The Arab state of Saudi Arabia is one such country.
Saudi Arabia is governed by Islamic law which means gambling along with alcohol, drugs, movies, pork and pornography are strictly prohibited and severely punishable. In a country like this which is ruled under strict Sharia law, there is no place for personal freedom. This is why it is not a place to ever try to connect to online gambling sites.
Even in nations where online gaming is 100% regulated, people of all types of religious persuasions are free to abstain from gambling on religious grounds, as is absolutely their right. However, the big difference is that their right to abstain does not – and should not – interfere with the right of their fellow citizens to gamble online if they choose.
Fearful: Some Governments Fear Online Gambling
Believe it or not but in the world today there are countries that fear online gambling because they think it has the power to corrupt and thus ruin their citizens. They see online gaming as a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of sorts, which once opened can never be closed again. This too is a nonsensical reason for not legalising and regulating online gambling.
Like anything in society, by implementing well-designed, smart and practical online gambling laws, rules and regulations can ensure gambling sites are licensed, regulated and monitored for fairness and fair play for all in online gambling jurisdictions like Gibraltar. This means players and operators can enjoy the protections of the government.
The biggest benefit to the government, and the respective country as a whole, is that by legalising online casinos, poker rooms and other remote gaming sites, valuable fees and taxes are generated. Instead of being siphoned off and lost as in the case of players who gamble at unregulated offshore sites, these monies can benefit citizens.