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Online bettors revealed

Attorney Eric J. Sinrod says the average cybergambler, male and college-educated, doesn't know that he's breaking the law.

No longer do people need to wade through clouds of smoke and suffer the noise and commotion of casinos to place their bets. Instead, more and more, people are gambling online.

While a recent survey report by the American Gaming Association documents that only 4 percent of Americans currently gamble using the Internet, this form of "entertainment" has transformed "from barely registering with the public and elected officials to being a major story in the nation's media and the subject of intense debate in Washington." But there could be trouble in paradise, as online gambling is not legal (at least not yet) in the United States.

Only 19 percent realize or admit that online gambling currently is illegal in the United States.

Some of the concerns relating to online gambling center on whether minors improperly engage in this adult activity, whether the ease of the Internet could cause people to spend too much of their time and money gambling, and of course the fact that online gambling is not legal here in the U.S.

Interestingly, the survey results reveal that typical online gamblers are younger, more highly educated, more male and more affluent than the general American population and the customers of brick-and-mortar casinos. The fact that online gambling is a new and developing trend is borne out by survey results showing that 70 percent of online gamblers state that they began this activity within the past two years.

Most online gamblers are not fully informed about their activities. For example, only 19 percent realize or admit that online gambling currently is illegal in the United States. Moreover, while they gamble often online and regularly, many are worried about the integrity of the online gambling games. Indeed, 55 percent believe to some extent that online casinos might cheat players, and 46 percent are of the view that other online gamblers have ways of cheating.

When asked why they gamble online, almost half of the respondents cited "convenience" as the primary reason. That might suggest that they would not be gambling but for the ease of the Internet, which can be a reason for concern. Surprisingly, less than 10 percent stated that the main reason for their Internet gambling was the chance to win money. So, is betting money over the Internet just something else to do in cyberspace? Apparently.

The average online gambler is a college-educated male under the age of 40 who makes more than $60,000 per year, plays poker and casino games roughly equally, and gambles over the Internet because it is easy and entertaining, not so much to make money. And while having this fun, our average online gambler does not know that he is not abiding by the law. Hopefully, he is not losing his shirt at the same time.