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Do casinos own their slot machines?
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In the United States in 1999 the National Gambling Impact Study stated "the high-speed instant gratification of Internet games and the high level of privacy they offer may exacerbate problem and pathological gambling". A UK government-funded review of previous research noted a small scale patient survey leading to press reports claiming that 75% of people who gamble online are "problem" or "pathological" gamblers, compared to just 20% of people who visit legitimate land-based casinos.
In 2004, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation launched Canada's first legal online casino, PlayNow.com, which makes legal online gambling available to residents of British Columbia and Manitoba. A survey conducted in 2007 showed that only about 2.3% of Canadians reported participating in online gambling. However, in 2012, Manitoba Lotteries Minister Steve Ashton estimated that gamblers in Manitoba alone were spending $37 million a year at illegal online casinos. Quebec's lottery organization Loto-Quebec launched a similar service, known as Espacejeux.
On April 15, 2011, in U. S. v. Scheinberg et al. (10 Cr. 336), three online poker companies were indicted for violating U.S. laws that prohibit the acceptance of any financial instrument in connection with unlawful Internet gambling, that is, Internet gambling that involves a "bet or wager" that is illegal under the laws of the state where the bet is made. The indictment alleges that the companies used fraudulent methods to evade this law, for example, by disguising online gambling payments as purchases of merchandise, and by investing money in a local bank in return for the bank's willingness to process online poker transactions. The companies argue that poker is a game of skill rather than a game of chance, and therefore, online poker is not unlawful Internet gambling. There are other legal problems with the government's case, and the indictments did not mention the Wire Act. On July 31, 2012, it was announced that two of the three companies indicted for money laundering and forfeiture settled with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney for $731 million without legally admitting guilt. The government also asked the judge to approve a settlement with the third defendant, Absolute Poker. In March 2016, PokerStars spokesman Eric Hollreiser said his company finally had established an important beachhead in the U.S. market by being able to operate legally in New Jersey.