Last year, when Congress passed a bill attempting to outlaw online gambling, it seemed pretty obvious that the measure wouldn't have the intended effect. As with most forms of prohibition, the law seemed destined to push the industry in a less reputable direction, as opposed to eliminating it. Six months later, this seems to be the case. While many online casinos took an initial hit, business at many sites is already back to pre-ban levels. This is due in part to the fact that some sites have closed down, leaving more business for the remaining ones, combined with the fact that bettors are finding ways to get back on these sites even after many financial institutions stopped processing payments. One of the biggest payment processors was NETeller, a reputable, publicly traded company that has now pulled out of the US market following the arrest of its founders. In its place, a number of alternative payment schemes have grown more popular, such as services that sell phone cards, which can then be turned in for cash at online casinos. Of course, there's a much higher fee on these kinds of transactions, and they're not nearly as transparent as normal money transfers, so the shift just hurts consumers. One would hope that the failure of the legislation to accomplish its goal combined with the WTO's recent condemnation of US policy might induce some sort of change, but this might be wishful thinking. If anything, the fact that the industry continues to operate is likely to prompt calls of even more draconian anti-gambling legislation.
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