UIGEA - Is Gambling Online Illegal?

The current US legislation in regards to online gambling is not a black and white issue. The unlawful internet gambling enforcement act which passed in 2006 sent a whirl wind of hysteria among media outlets stating that there was in fact a full fledged ban on gambling online. This is 100% false.

The passing of bill UIGEA required that all banks and financial institutions stop processing payments to gambling companies. This meant that not only would you not be able to process checks from withdrawals you would also not be able to deposit to a poker or casino site using your credit card. It also forced many of the old 3rd party payment processors to leave the US market such as Firepay, Neteller and others alike.

This is why you will find when you do use your credit card at most poker sites the transaction will not be approved. It’s not because you are not allowed to play, it’s because the bank required by law to block the payment. That’s not to say that all poker and casino sites have stopped accepting them. There are still a few such as SportsBook Poker that do process credit card transactions.

Is it illegal to play online poker or online casinos?

The UIGEA did not make online gambling illegal however players do need to check their local laws within their state as some jurisdictions do have state laws regarding this. Some states outlaw all forms of online gambling while others have placed restrictions based on games. Furthermore, there has not been a single case where a player has been charged for online gambling. Not one.  There have been reports of some payment processors and online gambling companies who were indicted on charges, but that is because they took bets from US players and accepted wagers which goes against the 1961 Federal Wire Act. It had nothing to do with poker or playing roulette for that matter.

Is it illegal to play poker for real money?

No the law has to do with the financial companies not the players. In fact there are so many unanswered questions to this law that the financial institutions themselves have come forward and said that it would be next to near impossible for them to monitor transactions as the government would like them to.

Another question we have been asked is, why some companies have closed their doors to US players if online gambling wasn’t illegal. Well simply put the majority of those companies where publicly traded, like Party Gaming which means they have stockholders. To protect the interest of the company and their bank accounts they needed to remove themselves from the US market to make sure that the investors were not in jeopardy. Basically it would be very risky for the traded companies to remain in the market and because it is such a grey area the investors didn’t want anything to do with it.  These companies were not forced to leave the market based on the laws, however chose to do so to protect themselves. 

I you are interested in finding USA accepted casinos, have a look at out  Casinos For US Players page and our Poker Sites For US Players page, as we only review the best usa accepted sites online.

Our site provides a guide for US players on where they can play poker or slots online. As we said as of right now gambling online at either a casino or poker site is not illegal and you can play for money if you choose to do so. If or when the current laws change we will update this page accordingly.

Please note that while we are reporting the current situation as it is we are not attorneys. If you have any questions we suggest that you seek legal advice within your jurisdiction and make yourself aware of the laws within your state.

Written by Christine Davies

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