by Casino Intensity Senior Editor, Hillary LaClair
Despite popular belief, the United States bill known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act does not actually restrict its citizens from internet gaming. The bill itself in actuality was passed to prevent financial establishments from transferring funds to online gaming websites. This is why many online casinos bring in a third party payment processor such as an eWallet to collect payments from its members.
The U.S. government is not satisfied with this solution, however, as they have begun attacking these organizations.In March of last year, the U.S. launched its first attack on Neteller, freezing the accounts of U.S. citizens who chose them as a payment option. Two former founders were forced to face criminal charges. In the end, the court ruled in favor of the U.S. and Neteller had to pay a substantial fine of $136 million.
The insanity presses on, as now a third party Canadian organization, known as Citadel Commerce has faced intense scrutiny over similar charges. The company had ceased handling U.S. transactions after Neteller was found guilty under charges of conspiracy. Still U.S. officials claim that there were laws in place while Citadel was offering its services to its citizens. Rather than subject themselves to the same prosecution as Neteller, Citadel Commerce’s owners, Entertainment Systems Inc. has agreed to a settlement of $9.1 million. The company was also forced to agree to cease U.S. gaming transactions within the next eighteen months.
Many wonder whether these recent charges were made a year after Citadel’s supposed indiscretion to fund the settlements that the U.S. now owes to several different countries. Overseas nations like Antigua and Costa Rica are in the process of collecting on billions of dollars in recompense for the unlawful arrests against their internet casino establishments and users. Other countries have since started taking action against the U.S. has well, with the enlisted aid of the World Trade Organization.
Where does this leave U.S. online casino users? If U.S. users wish to participate in online gambling, there are still payment options that will allow them to do so, assuming that they are not also brought into question. There is still the option of credit cards, money orders, cashier’s checks, CentralCoin and many others. That is not to say that they should not concern themselves with the idea that the government may soon find a way to keep them from the internet casinos altogether.With the way things are going, it seems officials will stop at nothing to infringe upon the rights of their citizens.
We should consider the organizations fighting to lift the UIGEA or enforce internet gaming laws. These organizations, such as iMEGA and the Poker Players Alliance are always in need of more support. In fact, the PPA made an appearance at this year’s World Series of Poker, allowing them televised exposure. In the meantime, play like there is no tomorrow, because there may not be if the U.S. continues to crack the whip on these payment processors.
Atlantic City, once one of the most bustling casino resorts, has recently struggled to retain its business. This certainly holds true for financial guru Donald Trump, as he closes the sale on the Trump Marina Hotel Casino. With the sale of this estate, Trump will be left with two remaining resorts.
A smoking law was recently passed in Atlantic City that is said to have contributed to the decreased revenue of the gambling industry. The resort has been purchased by Coastal Development LLC. The Coastal Marina, affiliated with country-western songwriter Jimmy Buffet, has purchased the property for $316 million dollars. New owners hope that its new theme, "Margaritaville" will generate more business.
Reports show that the casino decreased operating profits by $4.8 million in the first quarter this year. With the smoking law having passed just a few months ago, one would be led to believe that there were other factors behind this recent loss of revenue. What then is the cause? Online Casinos.
Let’s face it; the world is going virtual. A report from Associated Press this week reveals a 17.7% decrease in gross operating profits in Atlantic City this quarter. Top online casino sites are proving to be quite detrimental to the business of land casinos. It is hard to compete with gambling sites that offer various bonuses, VIP slots and copious amounts of other activities without having to leave the house. This may have gone unnoticed as many casinos based off of reservations do not feel the effects of internet gambling.
Of course online casinos cannot be held accountable for the advancements in technology. The spread of virtual revenue reaches far beyond the gambling industry. Almost every conceivable good or service can now be purchased online, from books, music, hardware, toys and electronics down to Chinese take-out! This may perhaps be another reason why the ban on internet gambling should be lifted. If Trump’s marina had been permitted the same online cash flow as some of the country’s leading reservations, he may not have had to sell.
Do not allow these statistics to discourage you from electronic commerce. There are a number of advantages to internet gambling and shopping, and many companies have taken advantage of this growing market. Some of these benefits include shorter transaction and fulfillment cycles, lowered procurement administrative costs, reduced operating expenses, increased company profits and improved management practices. In addition to this, research will tell you that as inefficient tasks are improved, businesses can enjoy savings in the range of 65%.
E-commerce also has a positive impact on the environment. With so many people utilizing the internet for all of their needs, they needn’t drive to brick-and-mortar establishments. Not only will this save consumers money on gas (which is speculated to reach prices of $7 per gallon by the end of this year), but green companies around the globe claim that online retail is the most environmentally friendly. There you have it. Top online casinos are a part of the solution to the effects of global warming.
Online casino aficionados will be pleased to know that the struggle to legalize internet gambling continues. For the eleven states that cater to the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act), representatives from top online casinos have enlisted the aid of defense attorneys from the Department of Justice and the American Banking Association. Those advocating for internet gambling rights have made a vital advancement in the Supreme Court ruling.
A main concern expressed by prohibitionists is that internet gambling, financed wirelessly via credit cards, encourages American citizens to spend money that they haven’t got. The thought is that this sort of activity would impede on our economy, when in fact iMEGA (the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association) was able to illustrate the financial inefficacy in the UIGEA. Currently, research shows that due to the UIGEA, the United States is being deprived of anywhere from $7 to $43 billion dollars of potential revenue. Congress Representative Jim McDermott has cited that when the act was passed, initially signed with the SAFE Port Act, the US suffered a much more substantial loss. The value of stocks in internet gaming took a nose-dive, thousands of jobs were lost, and banks were suddenly left to enforce new laws that they were never financed to handle. Instead we are forced to observe as other countries cash in on what could save our taxpayers billions. The latest court ruling stated that the bill’s criminal penalties do not apply to banks and financial transaction companies. In essence, your banks and credit unions have been given the legal right to turn the other cheek should they stumble upon a transaction made on a gambling site. That in itself is the greatest victory that the defense could have hoped to achieve. Gambling citizens everywhere eagerly await the next step.
Straying from the political spectrum of things, what is the general American consensus on internet gambling? According to an article written by Steven Crist in Washington times, in 1998 56% of Americans were shown to endorse gambling, and a mere 25% of non-gamblers claimed to have moral objection to it. Current estimates show that Americans will generate $600 billion in gambling wagers. iMEGA suggests that these extra finances could be used toward under funded social reform programs.
Because of the abundance of American gamblers, it will become increasingly difficult to enforce the UIGEA. Foreign internet gambling sites provide an indisputable loophole for gamers, as they are not obligated by law to prevent Americans from making use of their institutions. Again, the business will more than likely be sent overseas. If ever there were an appropriate time for the American sense of capitalism to surface, it’s now. In the meantime, if you are unfortunate enough to live in Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Indiana, Nevada, South Dekota, New Jersey or New York, there are organizations awaiting your support in the good fight.
In short, the future for online casinos bodes well. The organizations that fight for your virtual liberties are gaining support daily, and the resources for additional information can be found swarming the internet. The increasing need for an economic stimulus certainly does not hinder this concept. The hope lingers that eventually our elected officials will no longer dictate how its citizens spend their already taxable income.
The European Commission has joined Costa Rica and Antigua with a separate dispute over the internet gambling policies of the United States. The U.S. is said to have withdrawn from its commitment to allow its gambling market overseas in yet another instance where the WTO (World Trade Organization) may be asked to arbitrate. The Commission has submitted a number of inquires to U.S. officials in an attempt to come to an agreement before legal action is taken.
Authorities state that the United States has granted trade concessions and then discriminated against foreign gaming websites. Settlements had already been agreed to with four of eight nations who filed for compensation, including the European Commission. It is rather hypocritical for the U.S. is to continue to pursue criminal investigations on those who have utilized top online casinos, poker rooms and sports books based out of overseas nations. The Remote Gambling Association claims that the United States violates international trade law by making arrests on foreign internet gambling operators, while allowing the usage of domestic gaming websites. The country has turned its eye to the domestic violations of the UIGEA, and then made unlawful arrests in areas where internet gambling is permitted.
Senior Advisor to Alston & Bird, LLP suggests that the United States Trade Representative should adopt an Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act proposed by Congressman Barney Frank. The bill would resolve the trade debate, officials say, and bring the U.S. in compliance with the WTO. This development could have an enormous impact on the next ruling in the case of iMEGA vs. the UIGEA.
The terms of the bill when it was introduced to amend title 31, are that it would amend federal law governing financial transactions to establish an internet gambling licensing program. It would prescribe regulation and certain requirements of internet betting or wagering. It would ensure that parties involved in investment banking, payment and transaction processing are not liable if they are in compliance with the Act. States, Indian trives and sporting leagues would be authorized to prohibit online gambling licenses. Additionally, the operator of any such institution would be subject to an annual review of licensing and regulation policies
To those who take advantage of top online casinos, this is a big step. If the United States continues to put its judicial foot in its mouth, we could see the UIGEA lifted in the near future. The reality of the situation is that the presidential administration is digging itself a deeper hole, financially speaking. The nation seems to be concerned with the monetary well-being of those who engage in internet gambling, when the administration itself is adding to the debt. On top of the trillion dollar deficit that we already face, disallowing internet gambling is proving to be costly in that the various countries seeking arbitration are demanding monetary restitution.
In short, those those of you who enjoy Black Jack, Bingo, cash bonuses, and all the other pleasures you’ll find in top online casinos such as VIP Slots, keep your eye on the European Commission’s investigation and H.R. 2046.
One of the most apparent qualities in an American is the inability to accept personal responsibility for our own reckless behavior. Just as tobacco companies force us to smoke and fast food industries force us to eat, online casinos force us to gamble. Recently, a Minnesota lawyer has filed a lawsuit against two casinos to the tune of $20 million dollars claiming that they directly contributed to her addictions.
After losing her law degree because she spent over a thousand dollars of her clients’ money at Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos, Arelia Taveras decided she had had enough. She would sue. Taveras argues that she was neglected by the casino owners. She would spend business weeks at a time gambling without eating or sleeping, brushing her teeth with disposable wipes. She feels that this was proof enough that her mental stability was at stake and that she should have been cared for by the casinos facing charges. Apparently it was the duty of the casino to kick her out, clean her up and march her straight to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, as well as to have Ph.D.’s in psychology. This way, if she were to return a few days later with more of her clients’ funding and a good night’s sleep, she would have won some money. These sue-happy "victims" would surely be singing a different tune if they had gambled successfully under such mental conditions. In fact, if they had asked her to leave, she’d have the legal grounds to sue for infringing on her right to be there. If this had presented a problem before she was disbarred, it certainly wasn’t apparent when she had spent years vacationing at Las Vegas resorts.
There’s another reason that online gambling ought to be legalized. If she had turned to an online casino, she’d have had no leg to stand on, and taxpayers wouldn’t have to fund frivolous court cases.
The question remains, is it honestly the gambling establishment’s responsibility to kick the habits of their clientele? Aside from the fact that many top online casinos do provide its members with resources for help centers, the truth remains that in the mental health field, gambling addictions are classified as an impulse control disorder. That is to say, if it weren’t gambling, it’d be something else. If the plaintiff succeeds in her efforts, does this open the door for addicts everywhere? Human beings can become addicted to anything: food, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, prescription medications, shopping, sex, etc. By Taveras’ theory, distributors of these goods should come into legal question as well. That may have gotten Spitzer off the hook.
Perhaps its time as a society to quit pointing the finger every time we become a victim of a circumstance that we have created for ourselves. It’s no secret that gambling can have adverse effects on some people. The media has made us well aware of that. Gamblers know this when they walk in to a casino. It is not the civic duty of the casino workers to prevent customers from throwing themselves into financial ruin.
Oxley to Piggyback Funding Prohibition Bill on Anti-Terrorism Legislation Kevin Smith, CongressDaily – 01/15/06
An ongoing concern among those who oppose legislation to prohibit Internet gambling in the United States is the passage of such policy as a measure attached to a larger, unrelated bill. That fear could be realized if Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, has his way.
Oxley, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services and a longtime advocate of Internet gambling prohibition, plans to add H.R. 2143, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act, to an anti-terrorism bill currently in committee.
A federal law passed in 2002 created a commission to study the intelligence and law enforcement failures that made the U.S. susceptible to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The commission released its final report in July 2004, and one of the recommendations was to increase the scrutiny of financial transactions originating offshore.
Based on this finding, Oxley wants to attach H.R. 2143 to a working bill aimed at putting some of the commission’s recommendations into law.
Introduced by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. and passed in the House as a standalone bill in 2003, H.R. 2143 would ban the use of credit cards, wire transfers, e-cash and other forms of payment for funding Internet gambling activities.
The 9/11 bill is scheduled for its second hearing in the Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, and CongressDaily reported Monday that Oxley will seek to a add the funding prohibition measure.
As chairman of the committee , Oxley is in a good position to do so, but that’s not to say the strategy wouldn’t be met with resistance.
"The leadership wants the 9/11 bill focused," one Washington insider told IGN. "If they add this provision (H.R. 2143) onto it, then anyone can add anything they want down the road, and they don’t want to open up that box."
The gaming provision will likely see some daylight, he added, "but I doubt it will win."
The 9/11 bill is scheduled for markup on Sept. 29, and Congress is scheduled to recess on Oct. 8 to give members time to campaign and gear up for the election on Nov. 2. That means time is of the essence, and heavily debated provisions like H.R. 2143 could slow the process of moving the full 9/11 bill.
Wednesday’s hearing was called to discuss proposed modifications to the anti-terrorism law known as the USA PATRIOT Act. Part of the act covers anti-money laundering, and the 9/11 Commission felt the law should be modified with some "purely technical" additions.
A spokesperson for Oxley’s office told CongressDaily that the changes would give more authority to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and include language to address both Internet gambling and anti-counterfeiting technology.
Oxley made a similar move during the PATRIOT Act markup in 2001, when he attempted to add the same prohibition language to the bill’s money laundering provisions. The bill was ultimately stripped of the Internet gambling funding prohibition amendment before passing.