A short, concise view of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act

by Lou on October 9, 2006

Many poker players are still confused about the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006. I hope to encapsulate the law in this short discussion. Detailed discussions and legal analyses of this law can be found at www.gamblingandthelaw.com/and at http://www.gambling-law-us.com/.

UIGEA does not criminalize players for gambling online. Instead, it penalizes financial institutions such as banks, credit card companies and financial intermediaries that process bets.

A bigger issue may be the reaction to this law by the majority of online gaming sites. Some have already blocked access to customers logging on from the United States. Others are undecided, while still others plan to continue serving customers from the US. If the vast majority of online poker sites eventually decide to cut and run and online financial intermediaries follow suit, you won’t be left with many places to play poker online.

But if a sufficient number of online sites decide to carry on business as usual, it’s difficult to see how the United States can enforce this law because every online site is located offshore and beyond the government’s reach.

The Justice Department, the FBI, and local law enforcement all lack the resources and the inclination to bust poker players. Their focus will be on applying the law to online gaming sites and related business, such as affiliates, Not even Washington State, which recently passed a law making online gambling a felony, have busted gamblers; instead, their efforts have been directed to gambling businesses.

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