The fast-paced growth of the online gambling industry is remarkable. It is estimated that the size of the global online gambling market is around $30 billion as opposed to $21 billion in 2010. Despite it being such a lucrative business, huge potential markets outlawed not only online gambling, but gambling altogether.
Probably the most surprising is the ban on online gambling in the U.S. In 2006 the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) shattered the dreams of getting on the online market of many casino operators. The Act “prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.” The arguments advanced for the enforcement of this Act concern matters of public policy. Pursuant to this regulation online casino operators around the world have closed their doors to U.S. citizens.
Other two countries which would make excellent markets for online gambling are China and Korea. In China land-based gambling is permitted, but is allowed only in Macau, which currently detroned Las Vegas as a gambling paradise. Even so, Macau remains closed to online gambling.
Another Asian country with an almost absolute ban on gambling is Japan, where gambling is generally banned with the exception of certain sport betting activities and lotteries. This, of course, does not mean that the underground economy related to gambling activities is not thriving.
In the row of countries with an absolute ban on gambling are most of the countries adhering to the Muslim faith. Here too, illegal gambling is flourishing.
Brazil, with 45% of population online and being the most highly populated country in Latin America, is an alluring prospect for online gambling operators. Except for a few forms of recreation such as beano, bingo, and horse betting, Brazil remains a strong opponent of online gambling, albeit unsuccessfully – most online gambling casinos gladly welcome Brazilian players, and they themselves are not shy at gambling either.
In Europe the situation is not as grim, but online gambling still meets some barriers. In 2010, the Council of EU in its Spanish Presidency Progress Report defined illegal gambling as “gambling in which operators do not comply with the national law of the country where services are offered, provided those national laws are in compliance with EU treaty principles”. In essence, each member state has the right to decide upon the question of online gambling, and if their aim is to combat fraud and protect consumers` interests they may limit online gambling even to a single publicly controlled operator. With this in mind, many members states have devised domestic monopolies (run by either a public or private operator on the basis of exclusive rights) allowing their citizens to play only at online casinos which have permits granted by their members states (e.g., Hungary, Denmark, France).
With the spread of bitcoin casinos and the profound advancements of the “Onion network”, legislation on online gambling will have a hard time keeping up with the technological progress in this field, and it is hard to phantom that it will ever constitute a true barrier to online gambling.