After an extensive study, Professor June Cotte of the University of Ontario is recommending legalization of online poker. The results of the study revealed several key issues that Cotte believes could be stamped out through regulation of the online gambling industry in the US.
Working alongside fellow Professor Kathryn Latour of University of Nevada, the two spent a great deal of time studying the online poker industry and its effects on online gamblers. Throughout the study, 20 regular casino gamblers and 10 online gamblers were interviewed at length.
The staggering $12-$15 billion brought in by the online gambling industry came as a surprise to Cotte, knowing the risk US players undergo to gamble over the Internet in an unregulated market. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The horse is out of the barn,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cotte expressed in a Times magazine interview. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are a huge amount of people doing this already.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A few key factors came to light during the study of online poker. Internet gamblers had a tendency to play much more frequently and aggressively, and when things werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going their way, often paid less attention to the amount of money they lost.
According to the study, online gambling operators were deemed problematic. Located offshore, some of these companies occupied a legal Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgray areaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, lacking proper regulation to guarantee players security and provide a responsible gambling environment.
Cotte believes that there are great benefits to legalizing online poker because it would grant players Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who are already gambling online regardless of the risks Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a regulated market. Through regulation, says Cotte, much of the harmful effects of online gambling could be controlled.
Cotte suggested a few elements of online poker regulation, including the addition of enforcing Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcooling-offÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ periods when a player suffers significant losses. Cotte suggested a pop-up window that would warn players how much time they have spent playing online poker in a single session. The availability of online counseling was also proposed.
In October of 2006, the US government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which re-enforced the prohibition of online gambling in the United States. Since that time, a number of studies have been executed and numerous public officials, mostly lead by Congressman Barney Frank (Mass), have fought to halt implementation of the UIEGA.
Thus far, all attempts have failed. Perhaps, (seemingly against all odds), CotteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s study will enlighten a few more influential individuals enough to turn things around in the US, opting for legalization and regulation of the online poker industry.
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