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Why Gambling is heavily regulated by the Government

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Charitable gaming is common in many American states and in other countries where commercial casino gambling is prohibited. Often government approaches the licensing of charitable gaming no more intensely than the licensing of other businesses. Yet the sums generated by this form of gambling are often significant.

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Say, in Minnesota the pull-out tab industry generates about $1.26 billion in handle each year. In Australia, slot machines in social and sports clubs garner equally impressive revenues.

In New South Wales alone, slot machines in registered clubs generate revenues of over $1.4 billion (Australian). The net revenues go to support the clubs, which can be established for any lawful athletic, social, or political purposes.

In both instances, regulatory scrutiny of the gaming industry is not significantly more intense than that for many other industries under government authority.

This model does not reflect a moral or socio/economic bias against gambling, at least for charitable causes. Nor does it recognize that the government has any special obligations to protect the industry.

Governments often impose greater restrictions on business activities based not on the activity, but on the monetary amounts involved.

For example, local offering of stock in a company of less than $1 million may undergo less government scrutiny than 4100 million in a national or international offering.

Commercial real estate brokers may undergo more rigorous licensing than residential real estate agents.

Likewise, the Government Neutral Model may apply lesser standards to smaller transactions, and more heavily regulate larger transactions.

Government may also decide that small-stakes gambling is harmless but that gamblers need protection from the high-stakes variety.

It may apply a Government Neutral Model to forms of low-stakes gambling and a Government Protection Model to high-stakes gambling, or ban high-stakes gambling altogether.

In Mississippi, for example, licenses to conduct low-stakes bingo games are routinely granted with little regulatory scrutiny, while applicants wishing to operate high-stakes games must undergo more rigorous licensing and follow stringent regulations.

In South Carolina, tavern owners can easily obtain licenses to operate low-stakes video gambling devices, but high-stakes gambling is prohibited.

On the Gambler Protection Model, some governments allow casino gambling, but attempt to regulate the industry to minimize undesirable social consequences.

Central to this approach is the notion that casinos should not exploit the public by encouraging them to gamble or exploit gamblers by encouraging then to gamble beyond their means or wager more than they would without encouragement to achieve this goal.

These societies may adopt laws that prevent casinos from advertising, offering entertainment, sponsoring junkets, or conducting other activities that stimulate interest in casino gaming.

Great Britain offers the purest form of gambling protection. A casino applicant can only obtain a license if it proves that the area where it proposes a casino has a substantial unstimulated demand for one.

The proponents of the British system believe that allowing casinos to stimulate demand for casino gaming is undesirable.

They reason that legalized gambling creates social burdens, particularly compulsive gambling, and stimulates gaming among lower-income residents.

They assert that compulsive gambling can devastate families and individuals. Likewise, encouraging gambling among the lower classes may result in non-discretionary dollars going to gaming instead of food, clothing, education, and health care.

As a result, either the standard of living goes down or the government must provide additional services. Consequently, Great Britain prevents casinos from stimulating demand for their products.

A good source to furthe read is the FBI's piece on the law enforcement implications of illegal online gambling.

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