The headline “More Online Casinos to Accept Credit Cards Post US Regulation” should bring a smile to the face of any American gambler. Since the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, the options for U.S. players have diminished significantly. However, that may change in the future thanks to certain states exerting their individual rights to allow Internet gambling within their borders. This article is intended to provide a look at what the future may hold, as well as list some of the more significant pieces of gaming legislation to be introduced over the last several years.
Possible Gaming Regulations by the US Government
While the title of this post might lead you to believe that significant changes are coming on a national level, this isn’t exactly the case. While the occasional politician writes a bill that would revitalize the online gaming industry, there have been no major inroads made in this area. It’s a disappointing truth, but the gambling business doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of Washington’s mind right now.
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Changes on the State Level
The greatest potential for change is currently coming from the state level. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have all made online gambling legal in no uncertain terms, and the only restriction is that players must be physically present in the state in order to play. In 2012, Americans spent $2.6 billion on gambling sites that were unlicensed in the U.S., so these new state laws are bound to bolster local economies and bring the debate about Internet gaming back to the forefront.
A few of these new casinos and poker rooms are already in operation, and they’re happy to accept Visa and MasterCard as methods of payment. And while some issuing banks (especially those from Visa) are still hesitant to involve themselves in online gambling transactions, others are willing to take the risk while remaining in compliance with individual state laws.
Important Gambling Legislation in Recent Years
Keeping up with all the significant gambling legislation that’s been passed or proposed in recent years can be a headache, but I’ve compiled a list below to make your task as simple as possible. While this information won’t transform you into a winner at the slots, it should give you an idea of the overall state of the gambling industry and where it’s headed in the near future.
- Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 – This important piece of gambling legislation was added on the SAFE Port Act, which is otherwise concerned with installing new regulations for port security throughout the United States. While legal tribal gaming and fantasy sports are exempt from the UIGEA, the language of the law “prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal of state law.”
This law had a major impact on the online gaming industry, and a number of leading casinos removed themselves from the U.S. market. For those sites that remained, they found it increasingly difficult to find credit and debit card companies willing to process deposits.
To date, the case United States vs. Scheinberg is the most significant legal action based on the laws set forth by the UIGEA. This federal case was filed against the founders of Cereus, Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars, the three largest companies still conducting business in the United States at that time. In addition to allegations of violating the UIGEA, charges of bank fraud and money laundering were also levied for transferring cash to and from their customers.
- Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act – On June 12th, 2009, this bill was introduced by Representative Barney Frank and gained 47 cosponsors in just over a month. It was meant to lead to the licensing of online gambling under a framework established by the federal government. The bill was eventually sent to the House Financial Services Committee.
- Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act – Representative John Campbell and 20 cosponsors introduced this piece of legislation on March 17th, 2011. The purpose of the bill was to establish a framework under which online operators could obtain licenses that would allow them to legally accept wagers from players within the United States. On June 1st, 2011, the bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
- Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2011 – On June 16th, 2011, Representative Jim McDermott introduced this bill that would require Internet gambling firms to pay a 2% federal tax on monthly deposits. In addition, U.S. states would also have the option of imposing a 6% tax on casino providers. The major action on this bill occurred on June 16th, 2011, when it was referred to both the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
- Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011 – Representative Joe Barton introduced this legislation on June 24th, 2011. The purpose was to allow for the regulation and legalization of Internet poker by the federal government. Each state would be able to decide whether or not they wanted to allows their residents to participate, and an office would be created in the Commerce Department to oversee operations and issue licenses. The last major action involving this bill occurred on August 25th, 2011, when it was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
- Internet Gambling Regulation, Enforcement, and Consumer Protect Act of 2013 – Introduced on June 6th, 2013 by Congressman Peter King, this bill proposed the legalization of all forms of online gambling except for sports betting. Online operations already offered by tribes and states would be grandfathered in, and a federal department known as the Office of Internet Gambling Oversight would be created and administered by the Department of Treasury. The last major action on this bill took place in July of 2013, when it was referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
2011 included a flurry of legislation aimed at online gambling, but there was a noticeable lack of effort over the next couple of years. This may pick up in the near future, especially with the subject once again becoming newsworthy thanks to the new laws being passed in individual states. You may have also noticed the tendency for these bills to be shuffled off to a committee, where most die a quiet death.
While it’s been speculated that more online casinos will accept credit cards post US regulation, it’s also important to remember that nothing is set in stone. Most of the significant developments on the Internet gambling front are happening at the state level, and there’s still the possibility that the federal government gets involved in an effort to stop this behavior. Still, the future looks brighter than it has in a long time, and U.S. players may finally be able to make a deposit without having to hold their breath in anticipation. A viable alternative to credit cards at the moment is the United States electronic Check or American Express cards.