The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which we passed in 2006, has not stopped Americans from engaging in online gambling. Instead, it outlawed online gambling and limited the ability of financial institutions to pay online gambling sites. In addition, the UIGEA prohibits banks and credit card companies from transferring money to gambling.
International internet gambling communities reacted to the law by requiring online gamblers to open e-wallets that can be used as online deposit accounts. E-wallets take money from bank accounts, credit cards, and debit cards and route it to gambling merchants. Because many e-wallet companies aren’t based in the US, the money used for internet gambling is not subject to US regulation.
The UIGEA wasn’t very effective because those who gambled found other ways. Internet gambling sites began to move out of the US after the UIGEA was passed and established themselves at offshore gambling sites.
Due to the 2008 financial crisis, Congress is seriously rethinking UIGEA. If They legalized internet gambling in the US, it could be regulated and provide huge tax revenue – up to $42 billion by 2020! Although many congressional representatives are opposed to any form of gambling, most of them agree that the UIGEA will not stop Americans from playing online.
The political tide is turning in favor of legalizing online gaming in the United States. Legislation to this effect has passed the House of Representatives committee level. However, it is not clear when the legislation will make it to the floor vote. Because of the November 2010 congressional elections, representatives tend to avoid any legislation they perceive as controversial. It is, therefore, unlikely that It will do anything with the bill before a new Congress is seated.
The tribal casino industry is one group that has taken advantage of the slow pace of the US government. Atlantis Internet Group and Cake Gaming signed an agreement in September 2010 to create an online poker network for tribal casinos in the US. This agreement would be the first legal online poker network that allows multiple players to play across state lines. Tribal Gaming Network has at least 30 states connected to it, which will enable them to offer online poker. Because of the unique legal status of Native jurisdictions, online poker is legal under UIGEA.
Online intrastate gambling is being considered by some states, although the pace of legislation in these states is slow, especially during an election year. Knowing that there could be hundreds of thousands of players looking for legal alternatives to online casinos, the tribal casinos have profited from indecisiveness by federal and state legislators.