Online Gambling Debts – How to Deal With the Causes and Effects of Online Gambling Debts

One thing there is no shortage of on the internet is opportunities to gamble. We are spoilt for choice, whether your fancy is for betting on sports, playing virtual card games or bingo. One of the things that makes internet gambling so potentially dangerous is that it is easily available for 24 hours a day. The real danger comes when you combine this factor with the fact that it is so easy to feel detached from the reality of money spent online. Gradually racking up a debt online does not feel the same as handing over hard earned cash from our wallet, so it is that much easier to lose track of how your online spending is mounting up.

For these reasons, debt problems from internet gambling are on the increase. In this article I hope to clarify some of the legal issues around online gambling, as well as providing some advice on dealing with the underlying problem and the debts that result from it.

Legal Issues Around Gambling Debts

When we talk about debt from online gambling it is important to be clear about the nature of the debt, because who the money is owed to does make a difference. People are often unsure about the legality of debts from online gambling. In the UK you can gamble legally on credit and incur a debt, but this debt is not then enforceable through the law.

However, there is an important point to make here, which is that this only applies when you are using credit extended by the company offering the gambling (casino, bookie, etc). If you use a credit card company to pay for internet gambling, that is a legally enforceable debt the same as it would be in any other circumstance, because you have borrowed money from the credit card company, not the casino. It is now against the law in the US to use a credit card to pay for online gambling.

You will find that many credit cards will regard a payment to an internet gambling website as a cash advance. This is then clearly borrowing money from the card company and the debt you incur can be pursued through legal action. If you do use a credit card to pay for online gambling this way, you should be aware that cash advances on credit cards are almost always charged at a much higher rate of interest than normal credit for purchases.

How To Deal With Debts Caused By Gambling

In dealing with gambling debts, there are two separate issues to tackle. One is the debt itself, and the other is the habit of gambling that led to the debt. Even if the debt is dealt with, it is likely to build up again if the root cause is not tackled too. Let us first consider the problem of paying off the debt.

The principles for tackling debt are nearly always the same, irrespective of the causes of the debt. To permanently deal with debt you should not be considering borrowing more money or paying anyone to deal with your debt for you. These courses of action are likely to deepen your debt in the long run.

With a little advice, you can deal with your debts yourself, by contacting your creditors and agreeing terms for repayment that you can afford. There is clearly more to it than that, but it is beyond esa letter the scope of this particular article. The process is straightforward and allows you to take back control of your finances.

Factors Leading To Internet Gambling Debts

It may help to have an understanding of why some people can become addicted to online gambling. The following are often contributory factors:

Gambling can be thrilling, leading to an adrenalin rush and feelings that we want to recreate time and again.

Many addictive gamblers think that they can win money and that this will solve all their other problems. It actually just leads to more problems by creating debt, which can then make it seem even more important to win the money, creating a vicious circle.

Addiction to gambling can actually be a mental disorder, which can lead to a compulsive need to gamble.

Being addicted to online gambling is often associated with other personal difficulties, including depression and stress.

Online Gambling Debts – The Warning Signs You may have a problem if you can answer yes to any of the following questions:

When you are not gambling, do you think about gambling and how you are going to get back to it?

Have you ever missed work because of online gambling?

Do you feel the need to gamble again after winning or losing?

Is the length of time you spend on gambling getting longer and have you ever spent longer online than you thought you had?

Are you secretive about your gambling with family or friends and do you dislike other people bringing it up?

Practical Steps To Tackle Online Gambling Addiction If you think you may have a problem with online gambling, here are a few simple steps you can take to begin to reduce or stop the habit:

Be open with friends and family and seek help with the problem.

Cancel any accounts you have with websites for online gambling.

Consider using software that blocks your access to online gambling websites.

Online Gambling

Online casinos

There are a large number of online casinos, in which people can play casino games such as Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, and many others. These games are played against the “house”, which makes money due to the fact that the odds are slightly in its favour. Some unscrupulous sites have been proven to offer rigged games, which are less mathematically fair than they appear.

Online poker

There are a large number of online poker rooms which offer various games of Poker, most commonly Texas hold ‘em, but also Omaha, Seven-card stud, and other game types. Players play against each other, with the “house” making its money through the “rake”.

Online sports betting

Several major bookmakers offer fixed-odds gambling over the internet, with gamblers typically betting on the results of sporting events.
A relatively new internet innovation is the bet exchange, which allows individuals to place bets with each other (with the “house” taking a small commission).

Funds Transfers

Typically, gamblers upload funds to the online gambling company, make bets or play the games that it offers, and then cash out any winnings. European gamblers can often fund gambling accounts by credit card or debit card, and cash out winnings directly back to the card.
Because of the questionable legality of online gambling in the United States, however, U.S. credit cards frequently fail to be accepted. However, a number of intermediary companies – such as Firepay, Neteller, and Moneybookers – offer accounts with which (among other things) online gambling can be funded. Casino operators and online poker rooms often offer incentives for using these ‘alternative payment methods’.
Payment by cheque and wire transfer is also common.

General legal issues

Online gambling is legal and regulated in many countries including the United Kingdom and several nations in and around the Caribbean Sea.
The United States Federal Appeals Courts has ruled that the Federal Wire Act prohibits electronic transmission of information for sports betting across state lines. There is no law prohibiting gambling of any other kind.
Some states have specific laws against online gambling of any kind. Also, owning an online gaming operation without proper licensing would be illegal, and no states are currently granting online gaming licenses.
The government of the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which licenses Internet gambling entities, made a complaint to the World Trade Organization about the U.S. government’s actions to impede online gaming.

The Caribbean country won the preliminary ruling but WTO’s appeals body has partially reversed that favorable ruling in April, 2005. The appeals decision effectively allowed state laws prohibiting gambling in Louisiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota and Utah. However, the appeals panel also ruled that the United States may be violating global trade rules because its laws regulating horse-racing bets were not applied equitably to foreign and domestic online betting companies. The panel also held that certain online gambling restrictions imposed under US federal laws were inconsistent with the trade body’s GATS services agreement.

In March 2003, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John G. Malcolm testified before the Senate Banking Committee regarding the special problems presented by online gambling. A major concern of the United States Department of Justice is online money laundering. The anonymous nature of the Internet and the use of encryption make it especially difficult to trace online money laundering transactions.

In April 2004 Google and Yahoo!, the internet’s two largest search engines, announced that they were removing online gambling advertising from their sites. The move followed a United States Department of Justice announcement that, in what some say is a contradiction of the Appeals Court ruling, the Wire Act relating to telephone betting applies to all forms of Internet gambling, and that any advertising of such gambling “may” be deemed as aiding and abetting. Critics of the Justice Department’s move say that it has no legal basis for pressuring companies to remove advertisements and that the advertisements are protected by the First Amendment. As of April 2005, Yahoo! has provided advertising for “play money” online gaming.

In February 2005 the North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize and regulate online poker and online poker cardroom operators in the State. Testifying before the State Senate, the CEO of one online cardroom, Paradise Poker, pledged to relocate to the state if the bill became law. However, the measure was defeated by the State Senate in March 2005. Jim Kasper, the Representative who sponsored the bill, plans a 2006 ballot initiative on the topic.

Problem gambling

Because the internet brings gambling right into a player’s home, there is concern that online gambling increases the level of problem gambling. In the United States, the link between availability and problem gambling was investigated in 1999 by the National Gambling Impact Study, which found that “the presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers”. If this finding is correct, it is reasonable to expect that easy access to gambling online would also increase problem gambling.

That same report noted the possibility that “the high-speed instant gratification of Internet games and the high level of privacy they offer may exacerbate problem and pathological gambling”. Bernie Horn, of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, testified before Congress that the availability of online gambling “magnifies the potential destructiveness of the addiction”.

Online Gambling Laws in New Zealand

New Zealand is currently a burgeoning gambling market. Millions of residents take part in some form of gambling activity everyday, and the population of recreational gamblers has been growing rapidly over the course of the past few years. While the land-based gaming market is seeing a great deal of growth, so is the online casino market. However, the laws regulating online gambling in New Zealand can be quite complex, so here is a brief overview of legality of online gaming in the country

New Zealand’s online gambling laws are regulated under the Gambling Act 2003, along with all other forms of gambling in the country. Up until 2003, online gambling was not regulated by any laws, so the legislation is still quite new and residents believe there are still some kinks to work out.

According to the Act, remote interactive gambling is prohibited. This applies only to gambling that is organized or conducted within New Zealand. Offshore operators can face fines for offering their services to residents of the country, but few have been prosecuted by local authorities. Some local online gambling operators are able to offer their services online, including TabCorp, a gaming operator which has a near-monopoly on gambling in Australia and New Zealand.

The advertisement of offshore online casinos is also prohibited. Therefore, gambling companies which are not based in New Zealand may not advertise their services to residents. This includes sports sponsorships and television commercials, as well as in-print and online advertisements.

Recognizing that New Zealanders are keen to take part in online gambling, the government has decided to allow some forms of online wagering to take place. It has recently been decided that players would be allowed to play the local lottery online. NZ Lotto has launched its own online gambling website, so that players can purchase all sorts of lottery products online. The website also offers online bingo and keno, adding to the range of choices that players have when it comes to gambling legally online. NZ Lotto’s website is a huge step forward for the country’s online gambling market; however, residents would still like to have more choice when it comes to playing casino games online.

There are some exceptions to the rules, however. The New Zealand government has stated that some cases of online gambling that may be disputed. As such, the local gaming commission would have to assess these situations on a case-by-case basis to ensure that players and operators across the country are receiving fair and safe treatment in the online gaming world.