Bet Blockers and Internet Bingo
Over at Reason.com, a website devoted to libertarian issues, author Jacob Sullum published an article titles ‘Bet Blockers.’ In it Mr. Sullum lists the absurdities contains in the 2006 piece of federal legislation known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The content of this article should be of interest to internet bingo players in the US. After the passage of this legislation many offshore internet bingo websites immediately closed their doors to US players. The law instructed the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board to come up with regulations related to ‘unlawful internet gambling’ but failed to provide regulators with a definition of ‘unlawful internet gambling.’ The law caused chaos in the internet gaming industry and many publicly traded companies watched helplessly as their stocks tumbled on global exchanges.
Instead of defining unlawful gambling l regulators instead came up with rules requiring financial institutions to adopt “policies and procedures” that are “reasonably designed” to prevent transactions related to internet gaming from taking place. Needless to say banks and financial institutions were not pleased with this totally unfunded mandate. Regulators say that since the act “does not set out the precise activities that are covered, creating such a list would require the Agencies to formally interpret” often ambiguous state and local laws pertaining to internet gaming. For federal regulators, trying to determine the legality of all the various forms of internet gaming, including internet bingo, are so complex that regulators will not attempt to do so yet they expect banks to do their work for them.
The Justice Department claims the Wire Act of 1961 bans all internet gaming but operators of internet bingo and poker sites have argues that the ban only applies to sports betting and this view was backed up by a Federal Appeals Court. Since banks are subject to penalties for helping a business that could later be judges to be illegal banks are now banning all gaming related transactions. This has caused some confusion such as when transactions related to the purchases of perfectly legal lottery tickets were declined in several locations. There are many ways internet bingo players can avoid UIGEA regulations, including the use of credit cards issued by foreign banks, paper checks and various e-wallet services.
In spite of the regulations Americans continue to play internet bingo. Bingo sites have responded by providing bigger bingo bonuses. Many sites offer players not only a bingo sign up bonus but also a bingo deposit bonus. American players have responded to these bingo bonuses and are playing more than ever despite the laws.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) proposed legislation that would remedy many of the injustices of the act but the legislation has been put on the back burner due to the recession and more pressing governmental matters. Says Congressman Frank, “If individuals like doing something and they harm no one, we will allow them to do it, even if other people disapprove of what they do.” What a concept”allowing American citizens to decide how they dispose of their hard earned money!
By Anthony Wayne
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