For years, online gambling was something reserved for people living outside the United States – most notably in Europe – with US players being left with social variants and offshore operators that were often quite shady (the “career” of one of them, with a pretty large network of casinos, ended with arrest and conviction quite recently). Thus, I think it is safe to say that most Americans are pretty inexperienced when it comes to online casinos, poker rooms, and their likes. Why would this be important, you may ask? Well, for one, because an increasing number of US states now consider the legalization of online casinos, in part encouraged by the nice results New Jersey’s regulated operators show – the state has pocketed over half a billion in taxes since the opening of the first online casino in NJ, four years ago. So, with the opening of an online casino in a state near you getting closer to becoming reality, let’s bust a few myths about online gambling.
1. Online gambling is illegal in the US
No, it’s not – at least not in all states. There is currently no federal law explicitly banning online casinos and poker rooms (sports betting is a different matter altogether). Instead, there is a piece of legislation that bans banks and other US-based financial institutions to handle transactions on their behalf. The law was passed in 2006 by the Bush administration and meant a major blow for the global gambling business. As a result, most major international gambling venues, along with software developers and service providers, closed their virtual doors in front of US-based citizens.
There are states where online casinos (New Jersey) and poker rooms (Delaware, Nevada) are legal and regulated, and there are others (like Louisiana) where they are outright banned.
2. Online gambling is not safe
On the contrary – it’s safer than land-based gambling. In Europe, for example, there are strict regulations in force, binding all licensed operators from major groups like Unibet and Bet365 to small, independent casinos like the RedFlush, to observe some of the toughest security, privacy, and customer protection policies. Operators like RedFlush employ the most stringent security measures to ensure safe and secure transactions – after all, their reputation (the most important asset they have in a highly competitive market) is at stake.
3. Online casinos can make you money
Well, not exactly. There are a handful of games at online casinos – and brick-and-mortar casinos, too – which, if played the right way, can be profitable in the long run. Yet they are unpredictable enough not to count as viable sources of income – and they were not meant to be, either.
Casinos are, first and foremost, entertainment venues, after all. Besides, they are businesses, not charities, so they are not giving away money to their players but aim to make as many profits as they can.
4. Online casinos are rigged
No, they aren’t – at least not any more rigged than land-based ones. Casinos like the Red Flush undergo periodical audits that ensure the safety of their services, the fairness of their games, and the truly random nature of their random number generators (special software running on the casinos’ servers that generate numbers that are guaranteed to be random). Of course, there is a profit margin for the casino built into each game – did I mention that casinos were not charities?
5. Online casinos boost gambling addiction
No, they don’t, and there’s science debunking this myth. A paper published by scientists at the Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction shows that online casinos are far less addictive than their land-based counterparts, probably because of the lack of an environment specifically designed to make the player play for longer. While there are players that gamble in excess of what one could consider being normal, these only represent a small percentage of the total online gambling population. Besides, statistics show that the incidence of problem gambling has remained constant for the last 35 years – and online casinos have only been around for a little over 20.
If and when online casinos come to your state, be sure not to think of them as a way to make easy money. Instead, consider them a form of online entertainment – and make sure to play responsibly.