Online gambling: Is it legal?
Online gambling, today, is a form of recreation for millions around the world. Once introduced to this arena, one finds it difficult to resist it's charm. However, one must be cautious. Before taking any other step, the first question must be, "Is it legal?


It did not take long for software companies to link gambling with the internet. In fact, Microgaming, a company based in Isle of Man, had already developed such a product by 1994.
Antigua and Barbuda became the first country to grant licenses for online casinos. It passed the Free Trade & Processing Act in the year 1994. Later on in 1996, Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established in Canada to regulate online gaming in Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake.
These steps, though small, did start discussions regarding the importance of regulated online gambling. Moreover, there was a spurt in online gambling popularity during this time period. The number of internet gambling websites increased from 15 to 200 between 1996 and 1997. By 1998, their revenues had exceeded $830 million.
However, as more and more countries passed legislations, the restrictions only grew. The Australian Government passed the Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act in the year 2000 making online casinos illegal. Bills curbing online gambling activities were introduced in the US. In 2008, Germany banned all forms of online gambling and betting.

Present Status

Today, the situation is not as bad. Online gambling, in most countries, is not banned. Rather, it is highly regulated. However, there are some countries which are yet to take a clear stand on it.

Taking Europe as an example, we can see how the laws have shaped up in these countries:

1. Germany: This major European power has had a rough ride with online gambling legislation. Its 2008 ban on online gambling made it impossible for private enterprises to enter the field. Only the government could offer these services. This, however, was considered 'too monopolized' by the European Court of Justice.
As a result, the Interstate Treaty on Gambling was introduced in 2012 to allow private participation. However, this was again scrapped in 2013. Today, some gambling sites operate in Germany because there licenses are valid till 2018.

2. United Kingdom: In 2003, the British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell remarked that Britain's gambling laws were too outdated. According to her, they were out of tune with the technological progresses made by the nation.
As such, a bill was introduced to regulate gambling and the UK Gambling Commission was set up. People can indulge in gambling. But, it must be done fairly and in the spirit of the law.

3. France: Separate bodies have been given the responsibility of regulating gambling activities. Moreover, in 2010, France legalised Sports betting, horse racing betting and poker. However, as of now, licenses for spread betting, exchange betting and casino games are still not given out.
Other countries in Europe like Spain and Italy also have liberal laws as far as online gambling is concerned. However, it must be noted that each European country has a different set of rules for online gambling. For example, in Poland, gambling may lead to legal persecution. So, it is advisable to properly look into this topic with respect to one's nation.

The future of online gambling legislation

In the recent years, the legislation related to online gambling has not been witness to much change. Some countries are still not clear about where they stand on this issue. However, over the years, the interest in online gambling has only increased.

In 2008, it was estimated that worldwide revenues from online gambling had climbed to $21 billion. More recently, in 2016, Statista predicted that the market will grow to $56.05 billion by 2018.

As this industry becomes bigger, a larger number of countries will have to take this issue seriously. Also, due to the favourable response online gambling has generated, this legislation will probably be its favor.
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