What is the UIGEA? The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act
It was 2006 that the UIGEA was been passed into law, and some people are still unaware as to what it is and what it did to legal online gambling in the U.S.A.. The UIGEA is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which has been written with that clever name that makes people think that online gambling on a whole is totally illegal. We find it funny that nothing more than a name can do so much damage to an industry that otherwise need not be lambasted. With a reputation of being illegal, online gambling has received a lot of heat.
Ever since the mid 1990's, the federal government had been attempting to ban online gambling. Legislators had failed to do so, but they finally saw an opportunity. This opportunity came when the legislature had begun to write the SAFE Port Act - a piece of legislation based on securing ports in the United States. In a shady, overnight deal, legislators had sneaked the UIGEA in as part of the bill. Realizing that there is no way the SAFE Port Act would fail, the anti-gambling legislators had found their way to make sure that online gambling could, in one way or another, be stopped. Boy were they wrong.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is essentially a banking restriction and nothing more. The UIGEA had been written in order to make it so gambling businesses cannot knowingly accept payments based on betting or wagering over the Internet that is unlawful under federal or state gambling laws. This confusing little law has been used to prosecute those in the business of processing payments for online gambling companies. No where in the text of the law does it actually make it illegal to gamble online. We have found that the UIGEA has been nothing more than a fizzle, with only a handful of arrests being doled out under the pretext of this law. It did lead to the shut down of some of the larger online poker rooms though, so it wasn't a total loss.
On one hand of the spectrum, the UIGEA could be looked at as a way to establish a framework for future regulation of online gambling. Since the UIGEA says that gambling businesses are prohibited from accepting payments from gambling sites that are in violation of federal and state law, this could simply be a way to prosecute unregulated online gambling sites in the future if online gambling is ever actually regulated. Though this could just be a grasping of straws, it is a possibility that cannot be ignored entirely.
On the other hand, some say that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act needs to be totally repealed in order to establish a framework for gambling online. There have been some attempts to do so, particularly by Barney Frank, and it has yet to actually happen. Sadly, timing has not been on the side of the online gamblers. When the law was close to being pushed through the House of Representatives, it was sadly blocked by an upcoming election. It seems that it will be a matter of time before Barney Frank tries to pass the law again. Until then, the UIGEA is going to be a symbol against online gambling, and we are hoping that the laws become more accommodating for online gamblers.
We expect the issue of online gambling and online sports betting to be hotly contested over the next couple of years, but as we all know there is nothing that happens quickly in Washington with the exceptions of spending money to finance their reelection campaigns. Still, as we've said on this page what we want you to take away from learning about the UIGEA is that there are still legal ways and legal sites to bet at outside of the United States and the jurisdiction of this law. It does not explicitly outlaw gambling in the U.S., it merely relates to the transactions and the purpose of those aforementioned transactions. Sports betting and other forms of online gambling remain as popular as ever though around the world, including the United States. People want to continue to bet, and there are ways in which it can be done legally.
The UIGEA did cause some companies to panic, but there is still plenty of legal online gambling sites accepting USA players. Hopefully politicians will realize how dumb they are for not regulating online gambling and we can have a better selection of USA gambling sites.