Common Online Gambling Games

It was 1994 in the tiny island country of Antigua and Barbuda, a certain law was passed which made the location a legal jurisdiction, allowing it to issue gambling licenses. This law paved way for online gaming and until today, most gambling companies would base their business in the country to utilize their license.

The gaming software came years before the commencement of online gaming. An Isle on Man-based software company called Microgaming developed the first fully operational online casino software which gave birth to many online gambling sites. Whereas Cryptologic, an online security software company, provided the indispensable software which made internet transaction safe, secure and workable. By 1995, the first online casino was launched.

Like many things that did not have a smooth start, the launch of online gambling also met many obstacles. One major problem it met along the way was the legality of the trade. The very idea and concept of online gambling was opposed and resisted by many and especially in the United States. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona for several times tried to prevent American citizens from gambling online and also promoted anti-gambling campaigns.

Recently, on September 30, 2006, the US Congress passed a bill stating the it is illegal for banks and credit card companies to process payments from US residents to online gambling companies. This bill later became a law which President Bush signed on October 13.

But although online gambling have up to now been fought against by many individuals, organizations and even the government, many are still captivated by the allure of this addiction. Thus despite all the disputes, supporters and players around the world are hooked in participating to online gambling. Most common online gambling games are:

Online Poker, or Internet Poker, is known to be partially responsible for the dramatic increase in the number of poker players worldwide. Online poker tables mostly host games of Texas hold ‘em, Omaha, Seven-card stud and razz, both in tournament and ring game structures.
Online Casinos utilize the internet to play casino games roulette, blackjack, pachinko, baccarat and many others. Internet casinos may also be divided into three groups according to their interface: Web based casinos, Download-based casinos, and Live casinos. Web based casinos are played without the need to download software for playing games. Plug-ins must be installed in the browser to accommodate such games. Download-based casinos require clients to download software in order to play and wager on the casino games offered. The software connects to the casino service provider and handles contact without browser support. Whereas Live-based casinos allow online players to play and interact with the games played in real world casinos. In this setting, players connected online could see, hear and interact with live dealers at tables in casino studios around the world.
Online Sports Betting, where there are a variety of sporting events that a player could wager over the internet like fixed-odds gambling. Wagering or betting could be done through Bookmakers, spread betting firms and betting exchanges.
Online bingos are also available via the internet. Also for Mobile gambling, there are now developments in the utility of wireless and cellular devices in gambling notwithstanding the raucous debates for gambling online.

US Gambling Statistics Show Online Gambling Fun For Some, Dangerous For Others!

In the United States, gambling statistics show that live and online gambling has generated as much as $91 billion per year (as of 2006). The industry is responsible for billions more in related tourist income as well as the economic benefit of hundreds of thousands of jobs. In some states, gambling through lotteries is even used to raise money for college scholarships or much-needed infrastructure projects.

When it comes to the gambling statistics related to what kinds of games Americans are playing, there might be some surprises. While commercial casinos still take in the largest share of legal gambling revenue (43% in 2000), and lotteries take second place (28% in 2000), online gambling is estimated to bring in an amount that is roughly equal to what is spent in Indian casinos each year. As the internet reaches more homes, so does online gambling. And unfortunately, so do some of the possible negative side effects.

People who oppose gambling in general believe that it brings higher crime rates to an area. Of course, this isn’t eligible for online gambling, unless you consider the possibility of your financial information being misused or hacked. But this risk isn’t any greater with online gambling than with online shopping or bill paying.

What is a concern is compulsive gambling. Some statistics on online gambling have shown that about ½ of 1% of the population may have a problem with compulsive gambling. True compulsive gambling means that the person cannot control their impulse to make the next bet, even when they are risking their job, home, health, or relationships. And United States gambling statistics show that people are twice as likely to become addicted to gambling when a casino is located within 50 miles of their home. With the advent of online casinos, there is no longer any true distance at all between a gambler and a casino, meaning more people have the potential to become addicted to their favorite online gambling game at a higher rate than to live gambling or playing the lottery. This has lead opponents of online gaming to call it the ‘crack cocaine’ of the gambling world.

This problem has a serious impact for those who suffer from it, with compulsive gambling statistics showing that as much as 48% of the members of Gamblers Anonymous have considered suicide. And of those, more than 10% report having made a suicide attempt.

Plus, some opponents fear that there is a great deal of opportunity for money laundering and organized crime via online casinos. Since the US doesn’t allow any of them to be located in the country, companies have set up shop in foreign countries with questionable, if any, regulations. Some fear that US online gamblers may be unknowingly contributing to criminal activity.

However, for the majority of us, compulsive gambling statistics don’t apply. Online gambling is just another way to enjoy the internet, and perhaps to even earn some extra spending money! If you are able to set a limit on the amount you spend and stick to it, and if you don’t endanger yours or your family’s financial well being with the limit you set, then chances are you will not become one of the negative gambling statistics. But if you do ever find that your online gambling affects your work, your family, your health, your finances, or your social life, then you may need to seek some professional help.

Online Gambling

Internet Casinos Inc. (ICI), the world’s first online casino, started operating from August 18, 1995, with 18 different games. Since then more than 1,400 websites, mostly domiciled in small Caribbean islands, have given rise to an industry that grosses over $3 billion a year. In fact no business on the Internet earns more revenue than online gambling. Out of the estimated 14.5 million online gamblers, almost 30 per cent are from Asia.

A bet can be placed in minutes. Anyone with a credit card can set up an offshore currency account with a gambling site, leaving them free to place bets on sporting events like Wimbledon, cricket, horse racing and Formula One, or join a virtual casino to play slot machines, roulette, blackjack, poker etc. Companies like Flutter and Betmart accept bets on anything from who is going to win the Nobel Prize to whether Madonna is getting a divorce or not. Bets can range from a nickel to thousands of dollars and according to whether you win or lose the amount is automatically adjusted to your account. The final balance can then either be mailed to you or left for future bets.

The law relating to online gambling in India needs to be understood within the country’s socio-cultural context. At the outset, gambling, although not absolutely prohibited in India, does not receive express encouragement by policy makers. The Indian organized gambling industry is estimated to be worth around US$8 billion. While stringent laws have checked the proliferation of casinos and high street gaming centres as in many other countries, barring the state of Goa, the lottery business remains the most post popular form of gambling.

Though gambling is not illegal, it is a highly controlled and regulated activity. Modern India is a quasi-federal Constitutional democracy and the powers to legislate are distributed at the federal as well as the state levels. Gambling features in List II of the Constitution of India, this implies that the state governments have the authority to enact laws in order to regulate gambling in the respective states. Thus, there is no single law governing gambling in the entire country. Different states have different laws governing gambling in addition to the laws that have an application across the country. While some states have banned lotteries, other states allow state government lotteries marketed and distributed in other lottery playing and promoting states through private entities.

Regulation of gambling

The courts have defined gambling as ‘the payment of a price for a chance to win a prize’. The dominant element of skill or chance shall determine the nature of the game. A game may be deemed to be gambling if the element of chance or luck predominates in deciding its outcome. As a result, Indian courts have held that betting on horse racing and a few card games are not gambling. The right to undertake the business of gambling and lotteries is not considered as a fundamental right protected by the Constitution of India. It may however be pointed out that the state government run lotteries make significant contributions to the state exchequer of several state governments and the Union government, and hence there is a resistance to complete prohibition.

The following legislation is pertinent to gambling:

The Public Gaming Act, 1867

This Act provides punishment for public gambling and for keeping of a ‘common gaming house’. This Act also authorises the state governments to enact laws to regulate public gambling in their respective jurisdictions. The penal legislations in respective states have been amended in accordance with their policy on gambling. However, this legislation does not have any direct impact on online gambling unless a wide interpretation is given to the definition of common gaming house so as to include virtual forums as well.

The Indian Contract Act, 1872 (ICA)

The ICA is a codified umbrella legislation that governs all commercial contracts in India. Under the ICA, a wagering contract is the one which cannot be enforced. The Act lays down; ‘Agreements by way of wager are void, and no suit shall be brought for recovering anything alleged to be won on any wager or entrusted to any person to abide by the result of any game or other uncertain event on which any wager is made’. Gambling, lottery and prize games have held to be wagering contracts and thus void and unenforceable. While a wagering contract is not illegal, it cannot be enforced in a court of law. Thus, the courts will not entertain any cause of action that arises out of a wagering contract.

Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998

This Act provides a framework for organizing lotteries in the country. Under this Act, the state governments have been authorized to promote as well as prohibit lotteries within their territorial jurisdiction. This Act also provides for the manner in which the lotteries are to be conducted and prescribes punishment in case of breach of its provision. Lotteries not authorized by the state have been made an offence under the Indian Penal Code. Several non-lottery playing states, like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, have prohibited the sale of other state-government lotteries under this Act.

Indian Penal Code, 1860

Section 294A deals with keeping lottery office. It says that whoever keeps any office or place for the purpose of drawing any lottery not being a State lottery or a lottery authorised by the State Government, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.

And whoever publishes any proposal to pay any sum, or to deliver any goods, or to do or forbear doing anything for the benefit of any person, on any event or contingency relative or applicable to the drawing of any ticket, lot, number or figure in any such lottery, shall be punished with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees.

Internet gambling

The law related to gambling is also applicable to online gambling. All gambling contracts are considered to be wagering contracts and it is not possible to enforce such contracts under the ICA, detailed above.

As pointed out earlier, the online lottery is the most popular form of internet gambling in India. Most companies marketing and distributing or conducting state government-sponsored lotteries through the internet are not allowed to sell their services in the states that banned lotteries. In most cases, these marketers and distributors limit their online services to consumers who are residents of the states where a lottery is permissible. Notwithstanding the fact there has been no reported case of breach by any company promoting online lotteries, most of these companies (as a safeguard) seek an undertaking from their consumers relating to their residence.

There have been instances where one state has banned the lottery of other states, including online lotteries. In a recent case, the Karnatka High Court upheld the decision of the Karnataka government to make itself a ‘lottery free zone’ by imposing a ban on lotteries of all other states, including online lotteries under the Lotteries (Regulation) Act 1998. The state government, in this case, directed the closure of the terminals and kiosks selling the online lotteries.

Enforcement over foreign jurisdictions

If the websites are hosted and operated from outside India, it may be difficult for the Indian authorities to issue any directive to close them down or prohibit their access without using its blocking powers under the ITA. The authorities have little to worry about, as Indian foreign exchange laws do not permit remittances outside India for gambling related activity, such as the purchase of lottery tickets, football pools and sweepstakes. As a result, a gambling website hosted outside India aiming at receiving money from within India cannot do so through legal channels.