Whether the United States should legalize and regulate online gambling or not is a part of the lame duck session happening on Capitol Hill. Both Representative Barney Frank and Senator Harry Reid are putting forth bills that would repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. This could potentially see online blackjack open up and be completely legal to play.
But online blackjack was never illegal for US citizens in the first place. UIGEA was to be enforced on the level of financial institutions, such as banks and credit card companies, who were not to allow transactions between US players and online casinos.
UIGEA, over all, was put in place for two main reasons: 1. To save us from ourselves, and 2. To protect US citizens from foreign companies.
While I cannot get on board with the first reason, I can understand the second. And it is a good reason.
When we play online blackjack in online casinos we are not protected by our own government—and, no, I am not talking about the “I know what is for your own good” kind of protection. I am talking about protection of you and your money. If an online casino takes your money or refuses to pay you, there is nothing you can really do about it. Sure, you can turn them in to the gaming control of the country they are licensed in, but it does not mean for one second that you are guaranteed to have your money back.
US lawmakers did see and understand this. So it was not entirely “We know what is good for you” behind their creation of UIGEA.
But finally it looks like US lawmakers are beginning to get on board with licensing and regulating online gambling in and for the US. But I do not think it is because lawmakers are getting that they cannot tell us what is for our own good. I think it is because they see how poorly written UIGEA was, that US players are going to find a way to play anyway, and because they see just how much money they can put in their coffers from such things as online blackjack, slots and poker.
Now if Reid has his way there will be about 15 months in which we cannot play anywhere and only brick and mortar casinos that have been in operation for more than five years will be allowed to apply for licenses. Honestly, Frank’s bill is much more liberating for US online gambling interests.
For the remainder of the lame duck session I am going to keep my fingers crossed in hopes of being protected when playing online blackjack—and in less than 15 months too.