In September 2006, the United States House of Representatives and Senate passed legislation that would make it illegal for financial institutions to conduct monetary transactions with online gambling sites. This legislation, termed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), was "tacked on" in the final hours (shortly before adjourning for the midterm elections) as an amendment to the unrelated and virtually unstoppable SAFE Port Act, which was intended to improve the security of American ports. The Act was signed into law by then U.S. President Bush on October 13, 2006. The specific UIGEA part of the Act can be read here.
Several large online gambling operators including 888.com, Party Gaming and Bwin immediately stopped accepting bets from U.S. customers, and saw their stock prices tumble accordingly. However, many other operators have continued to accept customers from the United States despite the legal uncertainty this law has created.
Curiously, no part of the UIGEA defines what exactly "unlawful Internet gambling" is and no part of the Act prohibits anyone from gambling online. A couple of years of hindsight has revealed the effects of this legislation to be:
- A minor inconvenience for U.S. players who would like to play poker or casino games online;
- A flourishing industry of smaller, less visible, and largely unregulated operators happy to accept customers from the USA;
- Most of the largest, most professional, and well regulated operators unwilling or unable to accept U.S. customers;
- Billions of potential tax revenue lost by State and Federal U.S. governments.
Below you can find an archive of all UIGEA related news articles we have posted to the site.
12 September 2008 by CasinoListings
Online gambling in the United States is in the headlines again as the week closes, with a new political initiative by House Committee on Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank. His Payments System Protection Act of 2008 just introduced seeks to push federal authorities on a more precise definition of exactly what constitutes "illegal" Internet gambling in terms of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and supporting regulations, long a bone of contention.
16 August 2008 by CasinoListings
The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association may not have achieved all of its objectives in its last constitutional clash with the US government over the UIGEA, but it was given legal standing by the court and it plans to launch a further attack before the end of September 2008.
8 August 2008 by CasinoListings
The US enforcement regime has been urged by two US legislators to halt its pursuit of European online gambling companies active in the US market prior to the promulgation of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
2 August 2008 by CasinoListings
Yet more legislation on Internet gambling was introduced to Congress by Representative Pete Sessions this week in the shape of HR6663, titled the UIGEA Clarification Act.
1 August 2008 by CasinoListings
The recent tied vote failure of Barney Frank's HR5767, which sought to halt the implementation of the UIGEA regulations pending proper definitions and drafting precision, has not stopped other Capitol Hill politicians from voicing their disquiet.