The world's first virtual online casino, Internet Casinos, Inc. commenced operation on August 18, 1995 with 18 different casi no games and is now publicly traded on NASDAQ. Most of these online gambling companies are located outside of the U.S. to a void government prosecution. ICI operates out of the Turks and Cayucos Islands and WagerNet is based in Belize. Site users can either send cash through one of the companies offering secure payment systems for the Internet or open an offshore account, a requirement for Americans to use ICI's site. A number of foreign governments have entered the business of online casinos holding their sites out to people worldwide. For instance, the government of Liechtenstein is operating an online international lottery in six different languages, including Chinese. According to Rolling Good
Times Online gambling magazine, there are over 1300 gambling-related sites on the net and more are up and running every day. The economics of the industry are amazing. While it may cost up to $300 million to build a new bricks and mortar resort casino, most virtual casinos can be developed for between $1-2 million and will employ only 10 -
20 people as opposed to thousands for a traditional casino. The ind ustry averages about a twenty-
five (25%) profit margin, versus the typical U.S. casino, which range s between eight percent (8%) to sixteen (16%) of each dollar wagered. Interactive Gaming & Communications International handled $48 million dollars in its first year of operations and has made a staggering profit ever since.
In sum, an estimated twenty million people are currently on line with a projected 160 million online by the year 2020. The major online casinos register over 7,000,000 visits per month. According to surveys conducted by the US government, the majority of gamblers, 83%, play online, however, only a third of that group plays for real money. In other words, the major attraction for online players are casinos that offer free games. In all, 28% of those who gamble do so online for real money. According to a recent study 73% percent of those who play for real money both online and offline lost money in the past month , while
80% of land-based-only players lost money. Online gamblers, however, lose more money per game. Those who gamble for real money both online and offline lost in the past month more than double what those who gamble exclusively off line lost. Further, there are more than four-
times more high rollers (percentage wise) among the online players than there are among land-based-only players.
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