Online casino gambling in the US has always been a pretty contentious issue which polarizes opinions of politicians and various other stakeholders alike. It’s perhaps for this reason that it has taken so long for a clear and unambiguous regulatory policy to emerge despite the fact that America remains the undisputed largest online gambling market in the world.
It wasn’t until the industry was over a decade old that specific legislation was finally passed – in the form of the Unlawful Interactive Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in late 2006. UIGEA was implemented in June this year, and takes a largely prohibitive approach to net-gambling by making it illegal for payment processors (banks, credit card companies, virtual wallet services etc) to enable transactions between the net gambling providers and Americans.
Since UIGEA was passed there has been a push from certain quarters to replace it (or rather change the scope of its operation) with laws allowing for US licensed and regulated providers of unambiguously legal categories of online gambling. There are a few draft bills floating around Washington to this end but the one that seems to attract most analysts and media attention is HR2267.
The reason HR2267 gets more airplay than other bills is due its relative chances of actually becoming law. In the last six months is has slowly gathered support from both within congress almost 70 cosponsors at time of writing and lobbying interests. Almost a third of all lobbying spend directed toward online gambling this year has been for HR2267. And just last week, the draft bill managed to get over a major hurdle – passing a vote by the House Financial Services Committee so that is may now be brought to the floor for consideration in the House of Representatives.
HR2267 in its current form will change the US online gambling landscape quite considerably. It won’t repeal UIGEA, but it will clearly define certain categories of online gambling including poker, bingo and casino games (but not sports betting) as legal. It was also allow for the US online gambling licenses to be issued to successful applicants.
Whether it will ever make it to law is still anyone’s guess as passage through the House and Senate is far from assured. Still, its current prospects of success are substantially better than what they were 2 weeks ago.
By Milton Shaw
Milton Shaw writes for a number of online gambling related websites