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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Gambling on the Internet: A Risky Proposition

1 May 2001

I receive a lot of inquiries about Internet gambling. Today I am going to begin a 3-part series on what this burgeoning industry is all about in an effort to answer some of your questions.

In a relatively short period of time, our access to personal computers and the Internet has revolutionized our lives. We communicate with one another via e-mail, we make purchases, gather information, and seek entertainment.

Gambling on the Internet is one form of entertainment that is popping up with ever increasing frequency on the information superhighway. There's only one problem. It is illegal to own and operate an Internet casino in the United States!

All of the Internet gambling sites you see or hear about are licensed outside of our country. A majority of them are based in Caribbean Island nations and other foreign countries. The ramifications of this are obvious: When you open an account with a site and gamble on it, you are doing so at your own risk and without the protection of the laws and regulations of the good old U.S.A.

All Internet gambling sites operate within a very gray area of the law to begin with. The Interstate Wire Act of 1961 prohibits the use of telephone and telegraph communications facilities for the placing of bets on sporting events. What about using your home computer to bet on blackjack? Back in 1961 there was no reason to even give it a thought.

Today, however, it is a very real issue to be dealt with. Congress is working on it. The laws have to be brought up to date and in sync with modern technology. Don't think our government doesn't want to get involved in some way with what has become a multi-billion dollar a year industry practically overnight.

There are hundreds of Internet gambling sites out there. Anybody with a personal computer, access to the Internet, and a credit card can play. But do you really want to? Especially in this area, with the availability of state licensed and regulated riverboat casinos, why would anybody want to risk money with a virtual casino licensed out of Antigua? It all boils down to convenience and having the world at your fingertips with your keyboard and mouse.

Furthermore, there are dangers inherent with playing casino games for real money in the privacy of our homes. Going to a riverboat casino requires an investment of time and effort. There are restraints on our behavior. We are reminded we are playing with real money.

You can play casino games on the Internet in the middle of the night in your pajamas. After all, an Internet casino is always available, just a few footsteps away. You must exercise a great deal of restraint and self-control and learn to budget your playing time accordingly.

When you are sitting in front of a computer screen playing with virtual chips, it is easy to get caught up with the games and wager beyond your means. You are in the sanctity and privacy of your home. There is the temptation to play more often. And as we all know, the longer you play the more you subject yourself to the house edge and the greater your chances of losing.

Oh yes, that house edge will hit you hard in Internet casinos just as it does in mortar and brick establishments. Maybe even more so. Do you have the assurances that the Internet casino games you are playing are on the level? Not really. They may say they are, but there is no way to know for sure.

If you decide that gambling on the Internet is for you, what site do you select? There are some very elaborate ones out there, and some very bare bones operations. You have to take on the task seriously and not just open up an account with the first one you find. They'll all tell you they're the best and safest. They all aren't. Take the time to shop around and see for yourself what the differences really are.

If you want to play blackjack, for example, check out the sites that offer the best rules. If you won't accept certain rules or playing conditions in real casinos, don't accept them in a virtual casino. It's that simple. If you wouldn't go to a casino that had only one or two slot machines, don't go to a virtual casino that has a meager selection of games.

Next week I'll continue my Internet gambling survey by discussing in greater detail what is expected of you and what personal risks you subject yourself to if you decide to play.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp