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The Legal Status of Online Casinos in the USA

If you play at online casinos from the United States, you’ve probably heard about the UIGEA, and may wonder what it means for you. The UIGEA is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and it means that banks are now responsible for preventing cash from reaching sites that accept betting of any sort. That includes online poker, sportsbetting, casino gaming, backgammon and skillgaming, and bingo. Banks and financial institutions are required to block wire transfers, credit card transactions, and any other transaction that can be identified as transferring money to an online casino or gaming room.

Over the past several years, financial institutions in the United States have begun to close off deposit options for online casinos and poker rooms. Visa and MasterCard now block all transactions that they can positively identify as belonging to online gaming companies. Some online gaming companies are able to bypass the system by coding the transactions as different business types, but Visa and MasterCard are catching on.

In the online casino world, e-wallets are a very popular deposit option. One of the first and best known e-wallets is PayPal, which does extensive work with customers in the United States. In order to maintain their legal status in the United States, PayPal banned transactions involving online casinos as soon as they became controversial. Since then, others like Neteller and Click2Pay have followed suit. These days, it is almost impossible to find an e-wallet which will allow a player from the United States to make a deposit to an online casino site

Casino players should be aware that with the UIGEA, they are not in legal danger of going to jail if they are caught playing online. Prosecutors are only going after those who process payments and operate online casino sites, not players. On the other hand, US prosecutors have seized funds from payment processors and from online poker sites. Thus far, the sites have paid players their money despite any financial difficulties the site owners incurred.

Among online poker players, there is a lot of optimism that the UIGEA won’t last long. There are bills being put forward by Representatives McDermott and Barney Frank to legalize, regulate, and tax online gaming. Moreover, players know that bans have thus far been unsuccessful. Even in China, where all online casino and poker sites are blocked by the internet providers, there are many online poker and casino players. Law enforcement in China is overall quite successful, so their failure in this field is quite telling. Online Gambling is here to stay.

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