NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Rise Of Internet Gambling

March 25, 1999

Statistics show that Americans love to gamble -- and growing numbers of them are doing it on the Internet. But Congress has been considering legislation that would outlaw that practice.

A new study from the Cato Institute argues that despite the efforts of entrenched gambling interests -- both public and private -- Internet gambling will remain legal in the long run.

  • At least 56 percent of Americans gambled in 1995 -- and it was estimated that by 1998, Americans would wager more than $600 billion.
  • About $100 billion of that sum went to illegal bets on professional and college sports.
  • Analysts calculate that of the $1 billion in revenues that Internet gambling generated in 1997, about $600 million came from the U.S.
  • Experts estimate that online casinos will have worldwide revenues of $7.9 billion by 2001 -- $3.5 billion of that coming from U.S. customers.

Cato's analysts argue that attempts to outlaw Internet gambling will inevitably fail because the architecture of the Internet "makes prohibition of online gambling easy to evade and impossible to enforce." Present illegal gambling on sports provides evidence "that Americans already pay little heed to anti-gambling laws," states Tom W. Bell, the study's author.

Moreover, Internet gambling doesn't require travel to Las Vegas. There are already 100 gambling sites on the net.

Source: Tom W. Bell, "Internet Gambling: Popular, Inexorable, and (Eventually) Legal," Policy Analysis No. 336, March 8, 1999, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, (202) 842-0200.


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