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Legal Internet Gambling in U.S. South Raises Questions

May 13, 2010 (CAP News Wire) – As the United States’ vast federal law aiming to discourage legal online gambling, the UIGEA or Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, prepares to be fully implemented in just 21 days, it seems that states are also beginning to crack down on online gambling in their borders, in all shapes and sizes.

Last week, CAP News reported that Florida authorities were engaging in stings against Internet cafes offering legal online gambling via a sweepstakes competition. Now, the same trend is being reported in more states, such as neighboring North Carolina.

“Patrons can play … any of the 25 Internet screens offering such games as “Bustin Vegas,” “Robbin Some Cash” and “Four Leaf Luck” at a new Internet sweepstakes business in Shoppes at the French Quarter on Williamson Road,” writes Joe Marusak at the Charlotte Observer, explaining that such activity is perfectly legal as long as the annual business license fee of $10 is paid.

“But the legal status of Internet sweepstakes games could change this summer, when the General Assembly convenes,” Marusak continues. At that point, changes in the form of regulation, additional taxation, or even outright outlawing could occur.

As of now, business licenses for any new such businesses are being limited, the article states, with “existing gaming businesses will be grandfathered in, meaning they’ll be exempt” from new rules such as limited size and the alcohol sales.

Still, it’s gambling on the Internet, it’s legal, and it’s in the United States — and in the conservative, rural South, no less. Some media observers in the state are reasonably arguing that there’s really no reason to ban such forms of “Internet gambling”: “Video gambling was banned not because it was wicked or sinful, but because the law under which it had operated for years was largely unenforceable. In the abstract, it could work,” states the Fayettesville Observer.

It can perhaps be seen as a welcome sign that American citizens want to gamble on the Internet, and that’s a lesson that vote-hungry politicians may soon act upon.