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UIGEA & US players

UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act)

Why have some online casinos stopped accepting US players?

The legal status of online gambling in the US is changing these days and online casino providers take decisions about whether to stay in the US market or not. Some of them carry on as usual, whereas others have imposed restrictions as to which US states they support and which of them not. Some online casino providers, such as Microgaming even have withdrawn completely from the US market. Each gambling site has made its own desicion. Therefore, some of them have no limitations and others don't allow players from either some US states or all of them to visit their casinos. That's why we have decided to create extra menu items to account for these changes. The list of casinos and online payment services accepting US players is being constantly updated. Please refer to our menu on the left to choose from the appropriate casinos.

Introduction - US players and UIGEA

On 5th December, 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt toasted the end of prohibition with the phrase "What America Needs Now is a Drink". Prohibition of alcohol can also refer to the antecedent religious and political temperance movements calling for sumptuary laws to end and encumber alcohol use respectively. This so called "Noble Experiment" aimed to get to grips with the excessive consumption of alcohol that was blamed for social problems by illegalizing the consumption of alcohol. As is the case with many things in life, moderation probably would have been the more "noble" approach. But after all, it only was an experiment.

History tends to repeat itself, and fast forwarding into the 21st century, there you have another prohibition in America, only that this time it's on internet gambling. However, it is hard to see a noble cause behind all this. The law targets the gambling website or a financial institution used for the transaction. Mere participation in online betting or wagering is not banned or criminalized by the Act and to our knowledge the Feds have never prosecuted an individual for gambling online.

The "Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act" goes after the money, not the millions of players, which would be nearly impossible to enforce anyways. It will essentially try to choke off the way Americans fund their gambling habits, hoping to prevent the transfer of dollars to the ever so popular Internet gambling sites. Click here, if you want to know more about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or short UIGEA

On 30th September, 2006, the US Congress passed the Unlawful Gambling Act, a new legislation prohibiting financial transactions and other areas related to online gambling. The law outlaws games of pure chance like online slot-machines, any kind of wager on the outcome of sporting or election events as well as games of skill like online poker. As a concequence, some of the largest gambling sites, such as 888.com, Party Poker, 32Red, Ladbrokes Casino and InterCasino have stopped accepting US players. These casinos emailed their US players to withdraw all funds from their existing accounts within a given deadline. Understandably, these players were not too chuffed about this and most of them think this law is ludicrous. If you are from the US, you may be one of these unfortunate players now looking for new sites to play.

In April 2007, U.S. Congressman Barney Frank introduced a bill to overturn the Act, saying "The existing legislation is an inappropriate interference on the personal freedom of Americans and this interference should be undone." There are many laws that take away individual freedom in order to protect a person from his own choices, but the Act is blatantly discriminatory because physical gambling is still legal in much of the USA, which makes the UIGEA particularly ambiguous. One can go to a Vegas casino and legally play all the games that the UIGEA has prohibited. It seems odd to have a policy in place that nevertheless favors large business houses and helps boost influential Las Vegas hotels, all cloaked in the garb of public interest.

According to a 2003 AGA survey, 70% of Americans believe that legalized casino gambling is a good way to generate local and state revenues without having a general tax increase. Only 58% of those polled agreed that such revenues have helped pay for local roads, schools, hospitals, and other projects. Nevertheless, if one considers the yearly turnover of this multi billion dollar industry, gaming revenue taxes can be a substantial portion of a state's revenue.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which was attached to the SAFE Ports Act, bans and criminalizes the acceptance of funds from bettors by operators of online gambling Websites that conduct unlawful gambling.

It's notable that: online gambling itself was NOT specifically prohibited, but only financial transactions involving online gambling service providers. This new law, however, does not clarify the definition of unlawful gambling and leaves room for interpretation. Therefore, some casinos decided, after consulting their lawyers, to remain US friendly and to carry on with business as usual. These casinos still accept players from the US, given that they deposit cash. One poker site has been bold enough to declare "We are not going anywhere. Still another sports Business as usual!" as their slogan. Apparently, the casinos which were listed on the London Stock Exchange have different risks involved than those which were not, they are answerable to their stockholders.

On the other hand, as the first piece of Federal legislation dealing excplicitly with internet gaming, it does make clear that the US government intends to stop the flow of funds from Americans to online gaming operators through criminal sanction. The act asserts, that under US law, a wager must be permitted under the laws both of the customer's place of residence and that of the operator. Since, according to the UIGEA, operators are not allowed to conduct an US based business many online casino businesses are located outside the US and operate under a license granted by governments, such as Antigua, Gibralta, Kahnawake or Malta.

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