Last updated: Feb 27, 2007
When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was signed into law last year, the United States gambling public was suddenly faced with the situation of many top online casino operators suddenly leaving the market, almost overnight it seemed. In fact, a sad joke doing the rounds at the time was: "Will the last online casino to leave the country, please turn out the lights". As the market got over the first shock waves following the law, legal and industry experts scrambled to try and clarify the situation for U.S. gamblers.
The current situation in the gambling world is volatile and erratic, to say the least. Every day, we hear of other companies blocking United States gamblers from their sites and financial institutions refusing to follow through with U.S. based transactions. So what can the average online casino gambler or poker player, who was used to choosing from scores of top quality sites, actually do in this situation?
The first thing to remember is that the UIGEA was NOT passed to target individual gamblers. The bill does not prohibit United States gamblers from playing online. It only targets financial institutions from processing transactions that originated from or to the United States. With that in mind, the bottom line is that if American gamblers can find a way of paying for their online gambling entertainment, they are not breaking any law - new or old.
Until very recently, U.S. players were paying for their gambling fun at the sites that were still accepting them, through alternative methods of payment such as NETeller. Unfortunately, the recent arrest of two ex-employees of NETeller led to the company's decision to block any transactions that were related to gambling. It is important to remember that players can still use their NETeller accounts to make payments to non-gambling sites.
There are still several payment methods that can be used by U.S. gamblers to pay for their online gambling, including sites such as eWalletXpress and Western Union. Gambling portals and forums are constantly updating the lists of companies that are offering players an alternative option than that of credit card payment or other traditional means.
Lists of online casino operators that are still accepting U.S. players are also regularly updated on these portals. In general, sites accept all U.S. players, ban them altogether or accept all except 11 states where gambling is illegal (Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin). At this point it is important to note that if gambling is illegal in your state, alternative payment methods and lists which sites accept U.S. gamblers are of no consequence to you anyway.
Players should also note that the new law does not affect certain fields such as online horse racing and state lotteries that were legal before the law came into effect. Players can still enjoy sites such as YouBet that are 100% legal. The same goes for the online purchasing of state lottery tickets. If playing for money is not absolutely imperative, players can also enjoy the practice mode and free download options at many online sites on the internet.
The important thing to remember is that online gamblers should not fall prey to the shady online casino sites that have unfortunately started filling the vacuum that was left when the larger, reputable online casinos were forced to leave the scene. There are still many sites that offer good quality service to American gamblers, and although they are fewer than before, it is still worth seeking them out and enjoying great playing and bonuses.