To look at American gambling from an Internet perspective is to see at once: We’re outside the old box, like it or not. We can no longer discuss the future without dealing in larger concepts. The use or legality of this wire or software, of that cable or satellite, makes no sense until we realize it is all part of a new playing field, covering the sum of information conduits available in the United States. This national information infrastructure (NII) consists not only of the obvious services like wire-line telephones, broadcast TV and radio, and the Internet, but book publishers, newspapers and magazines, cable TV and modems, even video rental outlets and movie theaters. The reason? They are all information systems, and technology is rapidly blending them into one entity.
Internet/interactive gaming began, legally speaking, by fitting “in between the cracks” of law and policy as the NII developed. It got its leverage to operate from sources that were hard to control through normal channels. It used the sovereignty of offshore jurisdictions as a kind of regulatory arbitrage to penetrate the markets of developed countries, with and without permission. It built the essentially unsupervised access of American and European citizens to the World Wide Web into an instant global market. The Web, in turn, owes that accessibility to building directly on the existing telecommunications structure in place worldwide, especially the doctrine of universal access, and it is including equally favorable electronic money transfer and credit card policies. There is little point in denying the industry enjoyed a “free ride” in many respects, and used it to take firm root in the world of eCommerce practically before the authorities realized it was there.