Published on August 24, 2003, 1:15 pm EST


Over the past seven years, from the time that there were just a few online casinos up until now, politicians in Washington have been trying to pass an anti-gambling bill. During these seven years, online gambling has grown into a billion dollar industry, with thousands of casinos popping up online, both reputable and unreputable. Each year the bills get stricken down in various levels of the government; this year, it appears there is at least a shot that one of two bills might be signed into law.

In the past, these gambling bills have sought to penalize the player directly for playing at an online casino. If you were an American and playing at an online casino, then according to these bills, you would have faced the chance of going to prison.

This year however, the gambling bills are taking a different approach; stem the flow of money into the casino by making any electronic financial transaction with an offshore casino illegal. In one of the bills, there were still criminal penalty provisions, however in order to clear the bill through the House of Representatives, these provisions were stripped from the bill. It remains to be seen whether or not these provisions will be re-added to the bill that is presented to the Senate. George Bush has said in advance that he will sign any anti-gambling bill into law if it hits his desk.

Anti-gambling advocates say that a bill is needed because gambling ruins homes. Anti-gambling BILL advocates say that the US government is mad because they are not making money on these gambling transactions, as they take place outside of the US border.

So let's say that a bill passes this fall that prohibits US citizens from using credit cards or debit transfers to fund offshore casino accounts. Would you think this was a fair step to take? Or would you say that the US government is being too meddlesome and should let its citizens decide what they want to do with their money?

Should the US take the step of prohibition or regulation? Many countries regulate online gambling, and don't prohibit it, including Britian and Australia.

What do you think? If you live outside of the US, then this bill wouldn't effect you. However, if you lived in the US, pretty much the only way you would be able to fund an account is a cash transfer to the offshore casino. ISP's may be forced to monitor people to search for any online gambling related activity, according to several proposals of the bill. Is this a justified step or simply unfair? Please discuss.