The Problem of Internet Gambling

The problem of Internet gambling is a serious issue that changed the gambling landscape for the worse.  For many, getting to a casino is not always easy or feasible, and is certainly much more difficult to hide.  With Internet gambling, however, access became so much easier to say the least.  While some companies block access to Internet sites, such that accessing it from behind a corporate firewall may not be possible, online casinos can be accessed virtually anywhere, anytime.  And let's not forget about portable devices like laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs, and smartphones!

Proponents of Internet gambling will argue that if someone wants to gamble, they'll find a way to get to a casino, so allowing them to do it online is actually safer.  Why is it safer?  Online casinos often have limitations that you can set for yourself regarding how much you can gamble (i.e. lose) in a given day, week, month, year, or lifetime.  And while that might be true for a given online casino, casinos don't coordinate amongst one another.  In other words, there's nothing stopping someone from gambling across different online casinos, losing all of their money, just as if they had gambled in a physical casino.

When asked about the problem of Internet gambling, online casinos will also defend themselves by saying that there isn't anything they can do to stop a problem gambler, and that it's not their responsibility.  While this may ultimately be true, there's no doubt in my mind that easier access contributes to more problem gamblers, and online casinos could do more to identify, and prevent problem gamblers from going too far.  The reality is that casinos are most interested in the profits they earn, and not the people, lives, and families they destroy.  There are no laws governing ethical behavior, and profits will typically take a back seat to ethics.

At the end of the day, however, it's certainly fair to say that if someone wants to do it, if they need the high they get from gambling, that they'll ultimately find a way to gamble.  I think that the point here is that it's difficult to argue that Internet gambling doesn't provide easier access, and even access to under-aged kids, and that it's even unethical and destructive to society, but that it's well within the entrepreneurial spirit of the country to support it.  Governments are starting to appreciate the problem of Internet gambling, and there are laws that are starting to ban certain types of online gambling.  Though, similar to pornography, it's likely to continue to exist online for the foreseeable future.

All that said, Internet gambling leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I would encourage families to use tools available to you to protect your children from gaining access to such sites, at least in places that are in your control.  While we can't control other people's behavior, we can certainly take some simple steps to make it a little more difficult for them to access!

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