• US Gambling Regulation

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UIGEA & US players

UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act)

Online Casino Gambling is not an exceptionally risky activity

An overwhelming majority of Americans enjoy gambling or have at least gambled once. With the rise of the internet and its possibilities they do so in ever increasing numbers online. Hundreds of websites let Americans place legal bets on everything from the spin of a virtual roulette wheel to playing poker. As the popularity of online gambling has grown, so too have fears among some politicians and regulators who see all kinds of problems associated with this pastime, such as underage and problem gamblers accessing gaming sites to money laundering and threats to financial privacy.

Recent examples of online gaming "scandals" have been isolated incidents, and are not symptomatic of a corrupt system. In fact, gambling on the Internet is safer in many respects than gambling in brick and mortar casinos.

While online gambling carries risks, as does all gambling, it is NOT an exceptionally risky activity likely to be exploited by criminals. The corrupt or unethical behavior of a few participants is not a valid basis for blaming the entire online gambling industry. However, legislators often hold up these rare cases as evidence of widespread lawlessness and thus justification for laws that would ban or jointly and severally limit Americans' ability to gamble online.

For the most part, internet casinos are not Unregulated - of course, there are also rogue firms out there, but this is not something particularly inherent to online casinos. While online gambling is less regulated than other industries in America, reports of online gambling as a playground for criminals and lawless crooks are a far cry from reality. In fact, this multi-billion dollar industry is a well-oiled, well-maintained, and, for the most part, highly scrutinized entertainment platform.

US Gambling Regulation

There is no set federal regulator or official body charged with overseeing online gambling in the US. This, however, does not mean that Internet gambling faces no government regulation. Now, with the UIGEA in force, most of the online casinos where Americans may play are physically housed in other countries, such as Costa Rica, Barbuda, and Antigua - they happily welcome online casinos. This means that they fall under the jurisdiction of those other countries, many of which do have some regulatory oversight of their activities. Also, various independent operated agencies which sole purpose is to evaluate and assess gambling sites offer certificates for those websites that meet standards of security, legality (meaning they guarantee that age-limits are strictly adhered to), and fairness. Many of these so called watchdog organisations also require Internet casinos to participate in their dispute mediation services in the event that a player feels cheated. These ratings are a practicable and an effective way for players to ensure that their rights are respected in the online gaming world.

Gambling sites can be regulated either privately or by the government. For example, you have the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (the regulatory body of the Kahnawake Mohawk Indian tribe in Western Canada), the government of Gibraltar, and England which maintains its own system for regulating online gambling.

Non-governmental agencies also regulate the online gaming industry. The largest of these independent watchdog organisations, eCogra, has certified more than 100 sites for "fair gaming, player protection and responsible operator conduct. No one seems to have challenged eCogra's claim that there has never been a scandal involving one of its certified sites. According to a recent joint study by eCogra and the European Gaming and Betting Authority, comparing independent regulators to some of Europe's government-run regulatory regimes, independent organizations like eCogra did just as well, and 24% of the time independent regulators exceeded the standards of the government monopolies.

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