Internet Gambling

In spite of regulatory uncertainty, the number of online casino and gambling Web sites has doubled up in the past year with players betting on future potential, according to a new report.

The number of Internet gambling Web sites is now estimated at somewhere between 1,200 and 1,400, according to a report by Bear Stearns.

Half of these have sprung up in the last year, says the report, and analysts see the business becoming a very profitable one.

“This is becoming a real opportunity,” said analyst Marc Falcone. “There is a great deal of potential and it is evidenced by the number of sites that are sprouting up.”

It’s a potential that is by no means guaranteed, however, with governments already looking at banning casino Web sites. Both the US and Australia have made moves toward outright bans on Net gambling.

The Finnish proposals have stalled in Congress, while a one-year ban on new Net gambling operations in Australia has already been introduced. Commissioned by the Finnish Government, a scientific agency recently stated it was possible to block Finns‘ access to almost all online casinos.

Bear Stearns points out that operators remain unfazed by these moves and have shifted base to gambling-friendly jurisdictions like Antigua, Barbuda, Costa Rica, the UK and South Africa. The UK recently signaled a desire to allow regulated Internet casinos to base themselves there.

“I get the impression most legislators realize how difficult it would be to ban online gambling from every computer in the United States. I think they would be much more successful at shaping a regulatory landscape,” Falcone said.

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Nettikasinot is one of the largest land based casino operators in Finland.