Current Online Gambling Laws Ensure No Winners

The state of gambling in this country is incredibly screwed up. The fact that laws are in place to make it very difficult to wager online, while new slots parlors and casinos seem to pop up every other week, is absurd. I did my best to play within current U.S. law on the horses over

The state of gambling in this country is incredibly screwed up. The fact that laws are in place to make it very difficult to wager online, while new slots parlors and casinos seem to pop up every other week, is absurd. I did my best to play within current U.S. law on the horses over the weekend, but would up nothing but frustrated and mad at the current system.

I live close enough to Philadelphia Park, and thus for many years I have only been allowed to bet on the phone or Internet at PhoneBet, the online/phone betting shop for the Philadelphia Park (now Parx) wagering system. However, recent changes made it so that here, outside of Philly, we could bet with other providers, like TVG. Proof via a giant electronic billboard on I-95 for TVG! We now get races from TVG on cable and finally are out of the stone ages with both the archaic website and terrible PhoneBetTV happily in the rear-view mirror.

The Breeders Cup was run on Friday and Saturday and though I could have just played offshore, I was hoping for a huge score, ones like the Breeders Cup has produced before. So, I wanted to bet into the pool and not get capped at my offshore joint. I have a PhoneBet account, but their system has caused me nothing but grief on big race days. Two years ago, it was so bad that I drove to the OTB (about 12 miles) to get in my Kentucky Derby plays. But this year, these races were going to be different. Welcome to the 21st century and welcome to TVG.

I started on Friday night. I went to tvg.com looking to sign up for an account. After going through all of the steps, I clicked the final button. However, the computer screen came back saying there was a problem setting up the account and I had to call in. Well it was pretty late so I figured that I could call in before the races, in the morning, and get everything squared away. Unless I was wrong and I really couldn’t open a TVG account. So, I checked the regulations to see if I could determine my eligibility and maybe save a phone call.

I had to dig because under the states that are ‘allowed’ to have TVG accounts, Pennsylvania has an asterisk (*Specific state regulations apply to eligibility). So , I kept clicking, determined to find out if I really needed to call in. I found their FAQ section and in it was something really strange. “Pennsylvania customers are limited to online wagering.” What? Well I use the Internet almost exclusively for wagering so this news was no big deal, outside of getting me angry at the system again. This tidbit also let me know that I was eligible open a TVG account.

On Saturday morning, I started kind of early for me. I was on the phone with TVG at 1030 AM. The woman spoke English, was located in the U.S. and was extremely helpful. She said that based on my zipcode, I could have an Internet wagering account with TVG. I gave her all of my info again, since the application blew up the previous night and within a couple of minutes, I had an account number. I then asked her if I could use my credit card to fund my account. She told me, “Yes, but some banks do not allow them to be used for Internet wagering.” I had to laugh on that one. I told her I understood and thanked her for being so nice (of course she did not know my previous horrors of trying to understand broken English or phone lines that sound like you are on the moon or that attitude that some offshore places have). I hung up the phone and went to the PC.

I typed in the username, pin (that I created) and my zipcode. Error! I tried again. Error! I started thinking that maybe I wrote the login information down wrong.

I called back in to TVG and got another woman, equally nice, who looked and said “ No Sir, it looks like you are putting everything in right.” She then asked, are you in Pennsylvania right now. I said, “Yes”. She said that it looked like I was logging in from New Jersey and that is why the system blocked me. I was very frustrated, but not at her or TVG, but at the crap that has gone on with online wagering in this country.

Still, not to be denied, I called my Internet provider and asked them about the whole New Jersey login. After wading through the menus, I finally got a guy who said he would look into it. It was now approaching noon. He got back on the phone and told me that yes I was picking up a New Jersey IP address (the address of you computer on the Internet). I even went so far as to explain my dilemma and this guy understood. He understood because his brother plays the horses and ran into the exact same problem! However, he also could not fix the IP issue. He did say that I could unplug my Internet modem and try to get a new Pennsylvania IP address, but that I could just be stuck with the NJ one until it magically changes back to PA. I also remebered that I was, for some stange reason, not allowed to wager with TVG on the phone. Again making me angrier. At this point I was so mad at the system that this country had forced on me, I made a command decision.

“Fine,” I said to myself, I’ll just play in my offshore account. I won’t play the Pick 4 or Pick 6, I’ll just play the races. So I did. And halfway through the day I hit a trifecta, so it was all worth it.

The real shame is that I did everything in my power to NOT play offshore, and I still had to look outside of legal U.S. wagering outlets. Due the archaic rules governing horse wagering, as well as the opposition that online wagering in general has, the government here forced me to go outside the U.S. to place my wager. I guess I could have gotten stuck using the inferior product that PhoneBet offers. But, I spent over 2 hours trying to play within the rules. What good are the laws and rules if they only hurt both the consumer and the best companies? In a free market society, the best products and best companies should prevail. But unfortunately, the horse player and online bettor are both just a step above lepers in the U.S. and cannot get a fair shake no matter how hard they try. So, players like myself will continue to go offshore, where companies compete for your business and, as with any free marketplace, the consumer wins.

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