After four years of stalling, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) regulations went into effect June 1.
The law will work to block thousands of international gambling operations from preying on U.S. citizens and make it easier for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute illegal operations.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the new law will have an impact almost immediately.
“This is going to be a new tool for both federal and state law enforcement officials,” he said, “to crack down on those who are engaged in taking bets from people in the United States at these unregulated, illegal offshore sites.”
Under the law, banks must stop payment to any foreign online gambling operation not licensed in the U.S. Opponents of UIGEA claim that enforcing the law will be too difficult, but Chad Hills, gambling analyst for CitizenLink, said it will be as easy as making a list.
“There’s nothing ambiguous about having to prove you are licensed in the U.S.,” he said. “All banks already have systems in place to stop payment to illegal or dangerous entities – this will simply lengthen that list.”
Some members of Congress, including Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., have been dragging their feet and hoping to get lawmakers to legalize online gambling. Frank has introduced a bill with the goal of decriminalizing the online gambling industry and gleaning federal tax revenues.
John Kindt, professor of business and legal policy at the University of Illinois, said representatives such as Frank ignore the social costs associated with gambling and addiction. “Gambling on the Internet destabilizes economies, it destabilizes financial systems, it would make all of our economic problems worse,” he said. “This would put the worst form of gambling at every school desk, at every work desk and in every living room.”
A poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University shows 67 percent of respondents want Internet gambling to remain illegal. Other surveys also show that most people opposed to legalized gambling in their own communities.
“If Americans don’t want a single casino in their own town,” Hills said, “they certainly don’t want several thousand online casinos piped into their homes.”