Offshore Gambling

Offshore gambling has become popular because of the tremendous opportunities that are made available to gamblers and gambling houses alike. The history of offshore gambling can be traced back to the 1990’s when a Caribbean island called Antigua (Barbuda) made online gambling legal. This resulted in a flood of gamblers especially from the US where the government tried in vain to make online gambling illegal. This decision was taken to control the problems caused due to gambling. On November 10 2004, the WTO (World Trade Organization) ruled in favor of the Antigua government. The accusation was that the Caribbean government was exporting the gambling business to the US. However, the WTO ruled that the US government acted against GATS (General Agreement in Trade and Services).

Offshore gambling is only possible because of the Internet, which provides unprecedented opportunities for gamblers. Online gambling is a very lucrative business since it can be operated even if the laws of a country do not permit it.

Other recent inventions such as tablet PCs and mobile phones have acted as catalysts in promoting offshore gambling. The main reason behind this is that people can gamble from anywhere in contrast to land based gambling. Conventional gambling forces gamblers to be present at a particular site. In offshore or on-line gambling, the gambler can play from anywhere around the world.

The licensing procedures have made the matter even more confusing since a company can get a license from one country, locate the server in another, and cater to the needs of customers from yet another country. Thus, the assortment of legalities and regulations make it impossible for governments around the world to curb or regulate offshore gambling activities.

Today the offshore gambling market is worth a whooping three hundred billion dollars out of which only twenty billion is legal.

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Offshore Gambling Sites

While Internet gambling is technically not illegal in the United States (the Wire Act refers only to gambling over the telephone), 70% of the world wide offshore gambling business is attributed to Americans. This is mostly due to the fact that US law imposes restrictions on the income from online casinos. Gains must be declared, while not taking into account any losses made. With this legal restriction, many casinos have decided to pack up and move their business overseas.

Offshore Gambling sites are the solution to an international resistance to online gambling. Internet gambling is not legal in some countries, so one solution created by online casinos is to move their businesses overseas to a more sympathetic country. Since their business is conducted online, the physical location of their offices and facilities do not really matter. This is what is known as offshore gambling, and refers to the lack of jurisdiction over these casinos by any particular nation or state.

Many Internet casinos and poker rooms are thus evading US law (while still being able to service US clients) by setting up shop in Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, and other more liberal places. The costs involved in transferring to other countries are negated by the fact that the online gambling business is now worth approximately $2.4 billion, and is still growing in popularity.

Because of the lucrative nature of this business, most casinos continue to look for loopholes in the laws that countries implement to regulate online gambling. For instance, although the United States has technically banned advertising for online gambling on magazines, television, and the Internet, savvy advertisers have found a way around it. Instead of directly advertising the casino part of their websites, they advertise tutorials on how to play poker (for instance) which uses only play money. But a link to the actual casino would be there somewhere for the gambler to sniff out.

But gamblers at these casinos should of course be more wary. Precisely because these offshore gambling sites are ‘offshore’ and thus beyond jurisdiction, the players are not as well-protected as they would be if they were playing in a land-based casino. Because of this, some organizations have been formed to act as watchdogs for these offshore casinos, protecting the players and enforcing some security.

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