by Casino Intensity Senior Editor, Hillary LaClair
Despite popular belief, the United States bill known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act does not actually restrict its citizens from internet gaming. The bill itself in actuality was passed to prevent financial establishments from transferring funds to online gaming websites. This is why many online casinos bring in a third party payment processor such as an eWallet to collect payments from its members.
The U.S. government is not satisfied with this solution, however, as they have begun attacking these organizations. In March of last year, the U.S. launched its first attack on Neteller, freezing the accounts of U.S. citizens who chose them as a payment option. Two former founders were forced to face criminal charges. In the end, the court ruled in favor of the U.S. and Neteller had to pay a substantial fine of $136 million.
The insanity presses on, as now a third party Canadian organization, known as Citadel Commerce has faced intense scrutiny over similar charges. The company had ceased handling U.S. transactions after Neteller was found guilty under charges of conspiracy. Still U.S. officials claim that there were laws in place while Citadel was offering its services to its citizens. Rather than subject themselves to the same prosecution as Neteller, Citadel Commerce’s owners, Entertainment Systems Inc. has agreed to a settlement of $9.1 million. The company was also forced to agree to cease U.S. gaming transactions within the next eighteen months.
Many wonder whether these recent charges were made a year after Citadel’s supposed indiscretion to fund the settlements that the U.S. now owes to several different countries. Overseas nations like Antigua and Costa Rica are in the process of collecting on billions of dollars in recompense for the unlawful arrests against their internet casino establishments and users. Other countries have since started taking action against the U.S. has well, with the enlisted aid of the World Trade Organization.
Where does this leave U.S. online casino users? If U.S. users wish to participate in online gambling, there are still payment options that will allow them to do so, assuming that they are not also brought into question. There is still the option of credit cards, money orders, cashier’s checks, CentralCoin and many others. That is not to say that they should not concern themselves with the idea that the government may soon find a way to keep them from the internet casinos altogether. With the way things are going, it seems officials will stop at nothing to infringe upon the rights of their citizens.
We should consider the organizations fighting to lift the UIGEA or enforce internet gaming laws. These organizations, such as iMEGA and the Poker Players Alliance are always in need of more support. In fact, the PPA made an appearance at this year’s World Series of Poker, allowing them televised exposure. In the meantime, play like there is no tomorrow, because there may not be if the U.S. continues to crack the whip on these payment processors.