Gambling in America dates back to the 19th century in the West where towns were beginning to sprout, creating communities looking for recreational activities to take part in. A population with an abundance of males lead to drinking and wagering becoming a major part of life in the 1800’s at saloons and gambling halls.
Betting was also extremely popular in the West, due to the fact that so many of the population were natural gamblers following their paths from the East in search of fame and fortune as the California Gold Rush really took off. Gambling was officially illegal in the state, and the Chinese immigrants who were running underground gambling saloons were at the forefront of the crackdown and faced litigation.
With the move into the 20th century came the obsession with casino gambling. State after state were beginning to pass legislation which outlawed such practices, apart from Nevada, where the city of Las Vegas has become the gambling capital of the world.
In the 21st century, the improvements in technology have had an almighty effect on gambling, with the click-of-a-button wagering now common place in America. In 2001, it was revealed following a study by the Australian government that over $11 billion was spent in online casinos by the estimated five billion online gamblers worldwide.
Despite online betting being illegal in most American states, the authorities find it extremely difficult to prosecute all the operators, due to their foreign jurisdictions. The law states that it is illegal for betting websites to be based in the United States, which means that most online casinos are located in foreign lands where it is legal.
As part of the major crackdown on illegal websites, Jay Cohen was the first American convicted in 2001 on the Federal Wire Act. Cohen and his associates had set up an online gambling website in Antigua, where it was legal to do so, but the authorities led by Attorney General Janet Reno shut the site down and prosecuted out of fear that such companies were attracting young people and fuelling gambling addictions according to the Washington Post.
One issue which has arisen with a number of the offshore gambling websites, is that sometimes they are not trustworthy and sometimes do not pay back winnings. Bettors often find little recourse in the event that they are treated unfairly by an online operator. Bovada are a credible and reliable company, who operate out of Canada and have been established since 2011.
In 2011, three websites; Full Tilt Poker, Poker Stars and AbsolutePoker were each found to have committed fraud and money laundering which led to a number of arrests. This included Full Tilt Poker’s founder, Ray Bitar, who was charged with bank fraud amongst other things according to the Guardian’s financial reporter Simon Bowers. The government were involved in the investigation, which also saw the three websites having their domain names seized by U.S. officials.
The latest craze to hit America, is daily fantasy sports, which sees players pay an entry fee before building a team and hoping it will out-perform others in the contests which will enable them to win money. Companies DraftKings and FanDuel are facing federal investigations which are planning to make these contests for money illegal. Certain governments have already decided to ban money games, with the wider investigation into DFS likely to look at whether it is a skill game or not.