Playing at Online Casinos as a U.S. Player

January 20, 2009 | Article Category: Gaming Law


For a little over two years, United States online casino players have found that many casinos will not allow them to play, and that many other casinos, still accepting U.S. players, may have trouble transferring funds to these casinos.

The difficulty that U.S. players experience when trying to gamble online began when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was signed into law by the now former President, George Bush, on October 13, 2006. The UIGEA is title VIII of the SAFE Port Act, which was codified into law in order to improve the security of United States ports. The UIGEA prohibits the transfer of funds to Internet gambling sites from financial institutions. Exceptions to this law included fantasy sports, horse/harness racing and online lotteries.

Publicly traded sites that were listed on the London Stock Exchange stopped accepting U.S. players when the Act was passed. Many non-public companies had planned to continue to accept U.S. players, some of which did, and some did not. Share prices in a number of companies dropped drastically when the move was made.

The UIGEA has caused much frustration in the online gambling community, as there are a number of issues that are unclear and open to interpretation. This has caused some to be overly cautious, and others to throw caution to the wind.

Casino operators, if they are based outside the U.S., seem to be on legal ground. It is illegal to have a casino operated from within the borders of the United States. Players do not have a problem playing in online casinos according to federal law, unless their state expressly forbids it. There are a number of states that do not allow online gambling, such as California, Nevada, Florida and Texas, amongst others.

U.S. players need to be more cautious than other players when choosing an online casino or poker room as there are a number of less than reputable sites 'helping' U.S. players to make deposits to casinos. It is wise to play in a well-known, reputable casino that does accept U.S. players.

When the law preventing the transfer of funds to Internet gambling sites came into being, in effect, deposit options such as NeTeller (an e-wallet solution) and credit cards had become outlawed. Clients found themselves unable to make deposits easily.

There are a number of e-wallet solutions that still work for United States players, allowing them to transfer the funds into an e-wallet account, and then transfer the funds from the e-wallet account to the relevant casino. There is a constant flow of new e-wallet providers.

The options for depositing funds to online casinos often changes. Because of this, the U.S. players are usually notified by e-mail of new payment options and methods as they become available.

Paying by credit cards is certainly the easiest way to transfer funds to online casinos. Interestingly, a number of casinos who accept U.S. players are still taking credit cards, and have had no problems completing the transactions. However, there is no guarantee that the transaction will be processed until it has actually gone through.

Some players go through the inconvenience of going into their banks and sending a Wire Transfer to the casino. There is, however, a new solution that seems to be working well. Players are now able to buy prepaid phonecards, and use the prepaid phonecards as a type of credit card, in order to deposit funds.

While operators are constantly looking for ways to enable online U.S. players to keep playing, there is hope that the laws will soon change.

Listing of US accepting online casinos here »

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