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Gambling/General : The Struggle to Legalize Online Gambling

By George Oates

Level: Feb 17th 2006
In the year 1961 the Interstate Wireline Act banned the possibility of persons making bets over wire connections, such as phone calls, thus making it illegal. Thirty years later the U.S Department of Justice accused offshore sport gambling sites because they directly violate the Wireline Act. Then in the middle of the year 1999 the National Gambling Impact Study Commission suggested online wagering to Congress. But in the same time with NGISC’s proposal, another committee proposed the exact opposite.

They argued that gambling made through the internet should be made illegal, and managed to convince Congress to side with their opinion. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona tried to amend the Wireline Act with the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1997. The Senate voted on the bill one year later and agreed with it.

With this act, the Online casino industry suffered a major setback. But the bill was held up in the House due to pressure from special interest groups. And besides this, the so called bill was declared to be much to general and that it may negatively impact the global Internet commerce.

Most of the online gambling companies are located offshore and say that they are not compelled to follow U.S. laws. With all this at hand, their statements are true only if the host country states that betting is legal. The USA Government disagrees; if the site is specifically targeting American inhabitants then courts may have authority. In the case against offshore sites the FBI said that their agents productively opened accounts and made bets from the phone and thru the internet in NY which obviously is considered to be illegal.
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