US Poker Law

About the UIGEA
Following the UIGEA Bill which was passed in 2006, poker players from America were forced to adjust their playing habits. The Bill did not necessarily bar Americans from playing online poker but rather made many poker online websites to decline signing up American poker players and allowing them to deposit. This was a result of the contents of the Act. Common websites such as Betfair, PartyPoker and Ladbrokes closed their doors from American players. The Bills currently under review include Jim McDermott’s H.R. 2268: Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2009, Robert Menendez’s S.1597 Internet Poker and Game of Skill Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act of 2009 and Barney Frank’s H.R. 2267, The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act. The Wire Act of 1961, in effect, is the one that explicitly makes online gambling a federal offence, but can be interpreted in many ways.

The effect on the US poker market
The general thing about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is that it bars financial institutions in America from transferring funds into accounts of gambling sites and does not really hinder Americans from joining online poker sites or make playing poker illegal. Online lotteries, Horse race betting and fantasy sports are however exempted. After the law was passed, many payment processors and online sites closed down shop, or moved away from the American Market. Some online poker websites that remained in the market include Poker Stars, SportsBook Poker, Players Only Poker, Bodog Poker and several others. The aim of the Bill was mainly to stop money laundering which the government believed was being done through the use of fake set-up online poker sites. In broad, individual players are not banned from playing online poker. Rather financial institutions are the ones which really got affected by the new laws. Online poker playing in America therefore is NOT ILLEGAL. Most online poker sites left the American market due to getting spooked and merely because it was now harder for Americans to fund their online accounts with these websites. The arrest of Neteller owners and a few other online site owners stirred up frenzy and led to the exit of many poker sites from the American market. The UIGEA Law was more controversial due to the way it was passed as opposed to the actual contents of the Bill.

A contested law
The Bill was unknowingly attached to a separate bill which was under Homeland Security and as such slid through the house. Most public companies with gambling sites which had customers from the U.S drew back because they did not want to risk putting the shareholders in an undesirable position. Most of the sites that remained were private sites. The Enforcement of the Law is very feebly enforced. Financial institutions however are forced to disengage with gambling intuitions completely to avoid legal action against them. With the poker industry being a rapidly growing one, Americans are likely to find a different means of funding their online accounts through the many crippling financial institutions by devising a method that will not be deemed illegal.

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