The history of online gambling dates back to 1994, when Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda started issuing licenses to companies applying to open online casinos. Thanks to secure online transactions and the convenience of betting online, Internet gambling had grown to $830 million industry by 1998. Such rapid growth of an ethically and legally questionable activity was bound to raise eyebrows, and it did. The US became the first country to propose a legislation that prohibited any company from offering any sort of online gambling product to a US citizen. The draft didn't become a law, but the US government relied on the older "Federal Wire Act" to ban and persecute various gambling sites that were serving Americans. Soon afterward, Australia, Germany, Russia, India, and Israel also banned online gambling in one way or the other. The UK was wise enough to regularize and tax online gambling in its early stages The United Kingdom revamped its gambling laws in 2003 to bring them in line with the latest technological developments. Hence, the UK Gambling commission was created and empowered to persecute any parties that violated the guidelines set by the law. Online gambling has since been legal in the UK, provided the gambling companies obtain a license and ensure that gambling is conducted fairly and openly; that there is no link between gambling and crime; and no person below the age of 18 is allowed to gamble. The dividends of the pragmatic thinking were visible immediately in the form of added tax revenues, which had crossed £660 million per year in 2010–11. The results had been too alluring for the French government to resist legalizing online gambling, and in 2009 it finally yielded to the temptation. It was stated by the budget minister that the "Internet reality" was too real to ignore, and instead of banning some 25,000 websites, it was better to regulate the industry and grant licenses to those companies that adhered to the revamped gambling laws. The United States still continues to grapple with the "problem" The online gambling industry has always been under a squeeze in the US. In 2004, the US government pressurized Google and Yahoo! To pull down online gambling ads from their websites. The CEOs of different gambling companies were detained or arrested at various times while transiting through the country. In 2006, the Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which made it illegal for banks and credit card companies to provide their services to Internet gambling sites. This was a big blow for the gambling industry, yet most of the companies vowed to defy the law and Internet gambling continued in the US in one form or the other. Better sense started prevailing in 2009, when it was agreed by the House Financial Services Committee that a regulating rather than banning Internet gambling would yield better results in terms of consumer protection and financial transparency (they didn't mention the huge tax revenues!). Till date, only some forms of Internet gambling are legal in only some of the states. The debate about whether or not to legalize it nationwide continues to rage. Should Internet gambling be legal? I'm afraid it's a very tough question to answer considering its ethical and moral dimensions. People tend to define morality differently, with many contending that it is indeed something relative and not absolute. The gambler is a free person and should have the liberty to make choices, even if those choices turn out to be financially disastrous. On the other hand, gambling (and especially addictive gambling) has consequences that extend far beyond the self of the gambler. Irresponsible gambling can wreck families and economies, but only if it is not controlled and regulated. We cannot just close our eyes to the fact that Internet gambling is as real as online porn or dating. It isn't just going to disappear even if banned. Legalizing and taxing online gambling can generate the much needed revenues for the government, and might provide some relief to the overburdened taxpayers.