Big Brother is Watching

Walk into any casino and you’ll be inundated by video cameras and surveillance equipment; those casinos have a vested interest in making sure that they control exactly how and where you get your money, and we’re used to being watched when we actually gamble in person.

Gambling online, however, is different: no one’s “watching” you with a video camera as you fund a casino account via PayPal and spin slots online, and it might seem that there’s more freedom when participating in an online poker game or blackjack hand. However, there is just as much regulation surrounding online casinos; it simply takes different forms from in-house surveillance…

Online Casino Gambling - Big Brother is Watching [Infographic]

All these online regulations can make it particularly difficult for online gamblers to actually access their money.

Processing Gambling Transactions

Gambling online in the U.S. is no easy task: because of a 2011 indictment, the three largest online gambling companies were shut down, and online players had to find international rooms in which to play poker and other games. It’s against the law, in the U.S., for gambling operations to take payment within the country.

When the indictment came down, it was found that the banks processing the transactions were unaware, in many cases, or that the gambling companies had pressured smaller and failing banks into processing transactions. One of the questions raised by this issue is whether online gambling is actually illegal: the federal law isn’t clear on the particular issue of gambling, but rather strives to regulate the way money is handled in betting.

What about in the United Kingdom?

In the UK, while there have been stringent regulations surrounding online gambling, the European Online Gaming Law Forum, happening this year, is set to possibly open up some of those regulations. Additionally, the Gambling Bill of 2005 opened up online gambling as well as setting new regulations. Key provisions of that law, and how it changes UK online gambling, are as follows:

  • The Gambling Commission was created to regulate online gambling
  • Online gambling was termed “remote gambling,” falling into the same category as placing bets over the telephone
  • Both on-site and online gambling must be licensed operators in order to provide casino games
  • If a child is found to be using an online casino, that company may not provide winnings to the child
  • The Gambling Commission must monitor gambling addiction, taking into account online players

However, because of the often stringent regulations, many people play online games that are not based in the UK, which complicates the issue of profits to a certain degree.

Blocking Online Casinos and Gambling Apps

Online gaming has also been blocked on various platforms and applications. Australia, for example, just moved to ban online poker apps, keeping potential gamblers from using their phones to bet money. Apple iTunes and Google Play are on board, too: they’re going along with the ban, meaning that gamblers will no longer be able to access any poker applications on phones with Apple or Android operating systems.

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To properly enforce the ban the government will likely need to enforce countermeasures such as requesting ISPs to block access to these games online and via mobile devices.

There are enough people who are skilled at finding exactly what they want on the internet, legal or not, that it will take quite a bit of doing to permanently block these gambling applications.

Going One Step Further…

Continuing in the vein of blocking content, whether in the form of online gambling or otherwise, T-Mobile has created a “system called Content Lock to help prevent under-18s from accessing unmoderated and 18-ranked material,” according to their website. Since gambling is considered “18-rated” material, the company is keeping that out of the hands of teens and young children, which is arguably a good thing to do.

What About our Freedoms?

However, it does raise the question of freedom of information: should our phone companies really be telling us what we should and should not do? It’s not particularly easy to unlock the Content Lock, either– you’ll have to provide proof of age and either go through the process of unlocking the phone via the internet service provider, using a number included with the phone, or else go into an actual T-Mobile store.

Clearly, while online gambling might seem like it gives you more freedom, there are a host of roadblocks and security measures surrounding gaming online: it can actually be more difficult to play online than to simply walk into an on-site casino and gamble your money away. Governmental laws may change in the future, given the rise in online gaming of many sorts, but for the moment it’s a tricky business.