June 9, 2010
The June 1st deadline for the UIGEA unlawful Internet gambling enforcement act has come and gone, yet for online gamblers, and casino operators in the United States, it's business as usual.
TORONTO, ON, June 09, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ -- As the implementation of of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) came to fruition on June 1st, its effectiveness remains in question. The purpose of the law passed in 2006 and recently enacted was to hold financial institutions in the United States responsible for blocking transactions to and from online gambling websites. Players at online casinos, sports betting and online poker sites nervously anticipated the deadline and how it would affect their ability to deposit and play.
After the dust has settled and gamblers and operators have had a chance to see what the new playing field looks like, the outcome is that it is virtually the same. While most Visa and Mastercard issuers have already blocked online gambling transactions, the few laggards such as Netspend have used the June 1st deadline as their timeframe for complying with the law. Much to the chagrin of regulators this is only a small component of the puzzle.
The prominent means of depositing at online casinos and poker sites since 2006 has been through electronic checks, and electronic wallets and this industry has remained unaffected by the June 1st deadline. Electronic wallets are third party payment processors located overseas which provide payment to many different online services. Financial institutions have not blocked payments to these services as they services as they do not constitute an online gambling website as dictated in the law. There is still no effective restriction in place to stop players from depositing and playing at online casinos or poker rooms in the United States.
Based on reports from members at a popular online casino forum, the effect of the legislation has been mixed. Some players have watched the deadline approach and have stopped gambling online based on the heightened uncertainty of the industry. Others, however have had the law come into effect without them even realizing or impacting their online behaviors.
In July, United States House Representative Barney Frank plans on tabling the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2010, H.R. 4976, which would regulate and tax Internet gambling. The output of this act would be a windfall of jobs and tax revenue in the United States, however insider experts do not expect this law to pass, at least not in 2010. As such, the legality and enforcement of the legality of online gambling in the United States is likely to remain in a state of uncertainty for the foreseeable future.
UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
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NetSpend First Casualty of UIGEA Implementation
By The Insider - exclusive to OSGA
Jun 4, 2010, 14:09
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Well the UIGEA finally went into effect this week and the first casualty appears to be pre-paid VISA cards. More specifically, this week a pre-paid card from NetSpend went down for gamblers. The NetSpend card was widely used amongst gamblers for the past several years and proved to be an efficient method of deposit for players. However, last week NetSpend began calling customers who had used the card for gambling transactions with a pre-recorded message telling them the sad news – NetSpend will block all gambling-related charges due to the UIGEA .
An email was also sent out to many customers who used the pre-paid card for gambling.
"Our records show that you may have used your NetSpend Visa Prepaid Debit Card for internet gambling transactions in the past. Beginning May 31, 2010, MasterCard and Visa will begin complying with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act by blocking all online gambling transactions attempted by U.S. cardholders. This means you will not be able to use your NetSpend card or account for internet based gambling transactions. Internet gambling transactions will be automatically declined to comply with these federal regulations. NetSpend has no control over this change."
When you call NetSpend the very first thing that you hear is a message about VISA and MasterCard and the UIGEA. I cannto imagine how much of NetSpend’s business was gambling-related for them to have an introductory message, before you get to hit 1 or 2 to continue, on their main phone number. In addition, your NetSpend account now must be tied into your social security number. According to thier customer service it is MANDATORY to provide a social security number for an ID check. These is apparently another new rule mandated by the government.
However, not every player who used the NetSpend card got the email or phone message. In fact, there have been reports that some people are still depositing at certain books with the NetSpend card.
You see, it is all how the gambling site codes the credit card transaction. Every transaction, whether it be for a gambling deposit or the purchase of a book or meal has a merchant code associated with the type of transaction. In order to better avoid of the USA anti-gambling radar, some gambling operators accepting US customers have been coding their Visa and Mastercard transactions in a manner as to not appear as gambling-related. The correct 'internet gambing' merchant code is 7995. Some operators have been putting their transactions through correctly, taking a chance as to whether or not the deposit goes through; others have not. Lastly, almost all online gambling houses use a third-party processor, so it may depend on whether that processor is on a ‘gambling list’ somewhere.
For example, BetJamaica and Poker Stars use correct coding, so customers who used the NetSpend card got the email and pre-recorded voice message. Others who have used NetSpend at gambling sites that do not correctly code their transactions did not get the messages. And, some of them still, use the card to deposit because the transactions have not been identified at gambling-related charges.
Back in 2006, millions of online gamblers used NeTeller as a money transfer method. When NeTeller decided to pull out of the U.S. market (due to the passage of the UIGEA), many thought it was the end of gambling online in the U.S. Yet, the industry still stands. Due to the final implementations of the UIGEA just four days ago, pre-paid cards and money transfers are getting tougher and tougher, but just like in 2006, the industry will ‘work around’ U.S. law and continue to be able to accept your deposits and process your withdrawals. But, as stated before, the process will be a bit more difficult (as if it isn’t tough already) and lengthy and probably, will end up costing you, the player more.
As a side note to the money transfer issue, one bookmaker told me this week that starting for football, the minimum deposit will be $100. “It’s just getting to costly between processors stealing, charge-backs and the overall cost, it’s just not worth taking in 40 bucks anymore”.
I guess the UIGEA is working . . .
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