USA Online Casinos and the UIGEA
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is a piece of American legislature that has become
key in the discussion of US online gambling in recent months. Essentially the UIGEA is a means of controlling
USA online casino players and USA online gambling by forcing banks to determine which transactions are being made
between US online casino players and 'illegal internet gambling' sites which are located outside of North America.
Should a USA casino player be caught making such a transaction he will have his bank account cancelled.
In essence, this is a means of making the banks the law enforcement agents. There are however,
several issues with the proposed enforcement of the UIGEA.
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Firstly, whilst USA online gaming is done via sites outside of the US, the act does not make a blanket
rule against all online casino games; some are not 'illegal gaming'. It does not, determine which are illegal,
but rather relies on state laws for such a determination making the definition of 'illegal online gambling' fuzzy at
best, and impossible at worst - or vice versa depending on your position. Part of the problem with the
determination is that the laws vary from state to state, but also in many cases the USA gaming laws haven’t been
re-examined in decades, making them a very difficult basis for legislation.
By placing the responsibility onto the banks to weed out and punish United States online casino players,
some claim, the UIGEA writers are finding away around this problem - it is not up to them to determine what is
illegal or not, but rather up to the banks; something clearly problematic in and of itself, both for the
principles of law writing and for the banks themselves.
Another problem with the UIGEA is whilst it is controversial, and many concerns have been raised
since the proposals for its enforcement have been presented, it was not passed by itself but rather
attached to a bill relating to the increase of security at US ports. The attachment received little
debate and is felt by many to have been simply railroaded through by its 11th hour attachment to the
Safe Port bill by Sen. Jon Kyle and Rep. Bob Goodlatte. The bill was passed very late at
night before an extended election year recess.
Sen. Jon Kyle has been campaigning against US casinos and USA casinos online since the late 1990's and in
recent years his efforts have started to pay off. This latest move against USA online gaming will
make it that much harder again for US casino players to participate in the gaming world. The underhand
tactics of its passing may however, to an extent, lean in its favor. Due to the lack of discussion and
true debate, the bill has now fallen under scrutiny from all corners, many of whom feel it to be
impossible to enforce, and a huge threat to the financial institutions themselves. Furthermore,
the lack of clarity of the what is meant by 'unlawful internet gaming', has for many appeared as a space
for maneuver especially when it comes to usa online poker, which many people would have classified as a game of
skill and therefore exempt from rules pertaining to gaming.
US Online Casinos and the UIGEA
Online gaming and online gambling are two related activities with a very narrow marginal difference.
Online casino gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome.
The primary aim of gambling online is to win more money. But on line gambling can create adverse social situations.
Since money is the major factor here, it can lead to ugly scenes. Gambling is most often related with
break down of rules and regulations. Thus it is necessary for the better functioning of the society
that gambling be under the control of the law.
Gaming on the other hand can be termed as gambling permitted by law. Internet gaming is legalized gambling.
The two activities are not mutually exclusive. Thus a gaming company can offer legalized gambling
opportunities to the public.
Gambling laws are the set of rules and regulations that are applicable to gaming and gambling industry.
The gambling laws are practiced throughout the world. Different countries of the world have different gambling laws.
The gaming and gambling laws in the US have changed considerably in recent times. It is no longer
illegal now. Playing at online casinos in the US is not a criminal act now. Many states in the USA have
legalized gaming including online casino style games and lotteries. Legalization of the games has given them a
certain status. It led to an explosion in opening the on line casinos and the online gaming has also increased
tremendously. Real casinos, online casinos and online gaming have become million dollar business and
bring in huge revenue. Best US online casinos have become business establishments. And
the US players have become entrepreneurs.
The words gamble and gambling comes under the criminal laws. But gaming is different. It is exempt
from the criminal laws. Gaming is reserved for those instances where the activity has been specifically
legalized by applicable laws. The two words gaming and gambling are not mutually exclusive. If the
applicable laws regulating those particular games are violated, the harmless gaming can turn out to
be gambling. The reverse can also happen. A gambling activity may turn out to be gaming if it is
exempted from a given criminal statue. For example playing a card game for money in a purely social
setting would be gaming only. No one should earn anything from the game other than as a mere player.
Such social games should be excluded from the reach of the criminal laws in the state where the game takes place.
Chance is the factor which determines whether a game violate a state anti-gambling statute. If an online gambling game
requires more skill to win than chance, then there is no issue of gambling casino. A skilful game cannot be
considered as gambling. Skilful games do not violate the anti gambling law.
Social gambling is allowed everywhere in the state. Here social means that no person other than the main
player or the host of the game earns anything from the game. A person can act as the overseer to ensure a
smooth flow in the game. But their earnings should not be more than what a player might win.
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