In two weeks, on the first day of December, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) will become an official law, and its effects will be legally implemented to the fullest extent. This change to American gambling laws will formally require US banks to block all financial transactions related to online gambling websites, including but not limited to deposits and withdrawals.
A group of US Democrats have been petitioning to delay the implementation of the Act, insisting that its enforcement will impose an “unreasonable burden on regulators and the financial services industry”. Yesterday, two powerful US Republican Senators – Jon Kyl and Spencer Bachus – formally requested that the implementation of the UIGEA not be delayed. “There is no justification for delaying the compliance date for the long-overdue regulations implementing UIGEA,” the Senators demanded. They also reminded lawmakers that the US financial sector has not made any formal complaints about the impact the law would have on their operations.
The UIGEA is actually three years old now. While its transformation from “act” to “law” has many American gamblers worried, the truth is it won’t have much of an impact on the current state of internet gambling in the United States. An important point to note is that the UIGEA is aimed at banking institutions and gaming companies – not at players. In addition, the wording of the Act is such that it does not cover all forms of financial transactions – there are many forms of funding that will not be blocked. In truth, the flow of funds between players and gaming companies in the US will not change dramatically after December 1.
While the implementation of the UIGEA back in 2006 forced many online gambling sites in the United States to withdrawal from the American market, many consider the situation to be temporary. When the act turns into a real law in December, it will be more difficult to overturn, but it certainly won’t be impossible. There is a strong group of pro-gambling lawmakers and politicians in the US that are working to reverse the online gambling ban, and the country may see the legalization of online gambling by the first half of 2010.