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Legislators Propose New Guidelines for Online Casinos in US

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A national group of legislators from states where gambling is legal is recommending standards that states considering legalizing Internet gambling might adopt.

Ever since the first online casinos in the US
went live last year, internet gambling has been a hot topic in America. As more and more states are considering regulating the virtual casino market, certain groups are investing all their money and effort into stopping this industry from growing.

It is now up to each state to decide whether they allow online casino games under the current American gambling laws. And while some of them are still weighing their options, the three gaming states – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – have expressed their willingness to share their valuable experience.

Guidelines for internet gambling

The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States has a tough decision to make: whether to expand internet gambling beyond the borders of the three states where it’s already legal, or whether to ban it entirely across the country.

New Jersey online gambling revenues

Last month, the state’s online casino industry posted its first decline:

•April: $11.4 million

•March: $11.9 million

•February: $10.3 million

•January: $9.5 million

While refusing to take a position for or against the issue, the New York-based group recently decided to put together a framework containing guidelines for states that are considering opening the online casino market.

Florida state Rep. James Waldman, chairman of the Council, told reporters: “As a group of legislators responsible for sound gaming public policy in our respective states, (the council) recognizes the threats, as well as the possibilities, involved in new technology and Internet gaming.”

He added that the group “wants to ensure that an effective system is in place for those that do allow intrastate Internet gaming, and that policy standards are in place to promote security and uniformity in states that may wish to form interstate Internet compacts.”

The guidelines refer to player protection and recommend a strict investigation of all companies that apply for a license. They also mention a few things about the technology that should be used to check where players are located and to keep kids out.

Help from the experts

Before releasing the new guidelines, the council consulted with the New Jersey gambling regulator. The full report includes a few specific issues the state had to face since the first online casino went live last November. Problems encountered by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement include geolocation and using credit cards to fund online accounts.

The state’s online gambling industry hasn’t turned out to be as profitable as officials initially predicted and many believe this is due to the difficulty in using credit cards to top off virtual gambling accounts. This April, New Jersey’s online casino market experienced its first decline, with revenues dropping from $11.9 million in March to $11.4 million.

Despite these problems, the report says: “As a matter of policy, legislation may seek to limit the use of credit cards, or access to credit for online wagering.”

The report also reminds legislators that it is illegal to set up online sportsbooks in the US. The recommendations will be debated again next month, at a meeting in San Diego.

To gamble or not to gamble… online

The topic of internet gambling in the US is hotter than ever. At the end of March, Senator Lindsey Graham and Representative Jason Chaffetz announced that they were working on restoring the old interpretation of the Wire Act, which said “No” to all online casino games.

Senator Graham argued that internet gambling shouldn’t become legal simply through a judge’s decision. “If you want to have online gambling, then come to the Congress. Let’s have a debate,” he stated.

His initiative is supported by several members of the Congress, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, who argued: “Many online gambling sites fail to screen for underage gamblers, do nothing to prevent money laundering and offer no recourse for fraud or other criminal acts.”

It is believed that casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is behind this legal initiative, as his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling has repeatedly called for similar measures. It looks like the fate of online casinos in the US is to be sealed soon.

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