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UIGEA Takes Effect Today (June 1 2010)

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Today the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) goes into effect across the United States, the draconian anti-online gambling legislation passed by Congress in October 2006, and signed into law by George W. Bush soon thereafter.

While UIGEA does not prevent Americans from gambling online, it does make it illegal for U.S. banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions to process online gambling-related payments. But how UIGEA will be monitored and enforced is anyone’s guess.

The reason is that exempt from UIGEA are certain forms of ‘good online gambling’ such as ever-popular state lotteries and horse racing, which means it will be hard for said banks, companies and financial institutions to distinguish the ‘good from the bad from the ugly.’

The ‘bad and the ugly’ being online casinos, poker rooms and bingo casinos. While UIGEA has been looming for many years, most U.S. banks had already started complying with UIGEA by the end of last year. However, for gamblers, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

This means that American online gamblers eager and willing enough to gamble online already use payment methods where the nature of their ‘purchase or deposit’ cannot be easily recognised or tracked to and from online casinos that are happy to accept U.S. players.

And while for the past three and a half years the looming implementation of UIGEA has sent shivers down the spines of online gamblers in America, the reality is that it will probably not amount to much more than a hill of beans in most U.S. online gambling circles.

Part of the reason is that supporters of a legalised online gambling industry in the U.S. are hoping that President Obama’s administration – unlike the Bush administration – will recognise the merits of a regulated (and thus taxable) industry and choose to reverse the ban.

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