US Poker Laws
The UIGEA Bill
The UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) Bill passed in 2006 dealt a blow to the ease in which poker was previously played in the United States of America. The Bill was not entirely tailored to bar U.S. citizens from playing poker but rather to enforce a law which would regulate the manner in which financial institutions deposited money into online poker sites.
US poker regulation explained
The UIGEA Bill in so many words bars financial institutions in America from depositing funds into the account of U.S. citizens with online accounts in poker sites in order to reduce money laundering activities. Several laws, such as Jim McDermott’s H.R. 2268: Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2009, Robert Menendez’s S.1597 Internet Poker and Game of Skill Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act of 2009 and Barney Frank’s H.R. 2267, The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act are currently under review and relate closely to the UIGEA Bill. The UIGEA Bill currently does not permit US citizens to deposit money into their online poker accounts. This led to many poker sites moving away from the US market in fear of suffering the consequences. Initially, most poker sites did not move away but once the US government actually indicted two well known poker sites under money laundering claims, many more poker sites started barring US citizens from entering their sites.
The Bill does not however restrict online lotteries, horse race betting and fantasy sports. Some of the poker sites that decided to vacate the US market include Betfair, PartyPoker and Ladbrokes. The list is endless, but a few still accepted to sign up US citizens while new ones came up to bridge the gap while operating in such a manner as to avert the law. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act has led to millions of dollars in losses to poker sites all across the globe. The US market is a large one and mores so with loyal gamblers who commit a lot of time and money on the internet playing poker.
Though there are other ways which have been devised to have payments made into the accounts of US citizens’ poker players, most opted not to go through the hustle of trying to beat the law and instead stopped signing up to play poker. A lot of money was lost both by the poker rooms and also by the US government, in that a lot of tax money was lost. Though the US government put the UIGEA Bill into effect, it had to exempt gambling all in all because of the heavy financial implications it would have had on it as a result of lacking the tax money earned from gambling annually. Most online sites which opted to leave the US market initially are those listed as public in other countries. Majority of them from Europe left immediately to avoid stirring up discomfort in their shareholders. Most of the online companies that remained were private companies or those based in the US. Various groups comprising of poker players are however attempting to change the UIGEA due to the manner in which the Bill was secretively sneaked into parliament.