The Truth About Online Gambling

Why It Is not the Wild West

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On Christmas morning 1869,in the dust bowl town of Towash, Texas, the patrons of Jackie’s Saloon heard the ringing of spurs against the wooden entrance steps and turned to see a tall man with a boyish face casually slide through the swinging doors. John Wesley Hardin, the 16-year-old son of a Confederate preacher, raised his gun with the grace of a portrait artist and painted the back wall of the bar with the blood of James Bradley—over a game of cards.

In the old West, this may have been a common way to ensure honesty at cards. Yet, as alien as that world seems to us today, some pundits and members of Congress suggest that things have not changed much since those gun-slinging days.

Today, gambling is legal in some form in all but two states and an over whelming majority of Americans enjoy gambling—or have at least gambled once—and they do so in ever increasing numbers on the Internet. Dozens, if not hundreds, of websites let Americans place legal bets on everything from the spin of a virtual roulette wheel to the outcome of a horse race.

As the popularity of online gambling has grown, so too has the urge among some politicians and regulators who see it as a problem to “do something” about it. Fears about online gambling range from under age and problem gamblers accessing gaming sites to money laundering and threats to financialprivacy.