Internet gambling started around 1995 and has grown into a multibillion dollar industry.
By its very nature as a semi-underground industry, Internet gambling defies precise analysis of its global and national scope. But several organizations have developed estimates that seem to exist within a similar range.
It is generally accepted that the first Internet gambling site came online in mid-1995, some have come and gone since then, and several thousand sites now exist.
Christiansen Capital Advisors, a firm that tracks online and other forms of gambling, estimates that the industry currently accounts for about $22 billion a year in global revenue, a number that will grow to nearly $25 billion a year by 2010.
About half of that will be wagered by Americans, the company says.
The U.S. General Accounting Office, in a December 2002 report, provided similar statistics, saying that “U.S. customers are reported to constitute anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of total operator revenues from Internet gambling.”
Those who support federal regulation and taxing of Internet gambling — rather than its ban — cite a December 2007 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
It found that taxes on the industry could pump $8.7 billion to $17.6 billion into the U.S. Treasury during the next 10 years, depending on which — if any — states opt out of a regulatory plan. If sports leagues agree to participate, $42.8 billion could be produced, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers study.
See related: Internet gambling regulations finalized