Since the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, U.S. crackdowns on online casino operators catering to American citizens have become somewhat commonplace. That said, with two big regulation bills currently under scrutiny in Congress, many online gambling enthusiasts were hopeful that such events were a thing of the past. Hope again American gambling fans, because we’ve got some bad news.
House Resolutions 2266 and 2267 proposing the reversal of the UIGEA simultaneous to the legalization and regulation of online gambling in the U.S. were on the agenda for a House Committee meeting on April 16, but the bills were pushed off the agenda in lieu of what committee members deemed to be more pressing economy-related matters.
The UIGEA is scheduled to go into effect on June 1 of this year. The act was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2009 but the implementation was delayed to give the necessary government bodies time to review HR 2266 and HR 2267. With the new deadline rapidly approaching and no new hearing yet scheduled, many proponents of online gambling are concerned that the U.S. will return to its restrictive online gambling policies.
Until the UIGEA is implemented, the U.S. government has no official stance on online gambling, but many state and federal offices have used the preexisting Wire Act to prosecute casino operators and funds transfer service companies for sending and receiving the money to and from American residents for the purpose of gambling online. In fact, on April 16 an Australian payment facilitator named Daniel Tzvetkoff was arrested in Las Vegas amidst allegations of processing almost half a billion dollars in illegal online gambling payments.
If the BetOnSports case which just wrapped in January is any indication of how the U.S. legal system plans to treat such operators, then Tzvetkoff could be in big trouble. BetOnSports founder Gary Kaplan and CEO David Carruthers received four years and three years respectively for encouraging their company to accept payments from American banks. Both men were likewise fined a combined total of more than $70 million.
What do the legislation delays and operator crackdowns mean to the common player? If you’re not American, then neither scenario will affect you. If you are an American gambler, you cannot be prosecuted for playing real-money games online, but funds that are in transit to or from an online casino could be seized by a government body. That’s what happened to hundreds of American players when the Southern District of New York seized more than $30 million last year. None of the funds have as yet been returned to the account holders.