Ever since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act, the infamous UIGEA, has been passed, people from the US have been basically banned from gambling online. Although there are still online casinos, bookies, and poker rooms accepting players from the States, moving money around can be a very complicated and long process, which deters a majority of US residents from even trying to play online.
However, with the popularity of Bitcoin growing, there’s been a huge rise in online casinos accepting the cryptocurrency. This could change the situation around quite significantly, because, as things stand right now, bitcoin transactions are almost impossible to control. There is no way for the US government to keep track of the money movements, which is an essential part of maintaining the control.
UIGEA and Cryptocurrencies
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006, contrary to the popular believe, mostly deals with transactions to and from gambling operators. It doesn’t really touch on gambling activities as such but rather deals with the source of the problem. By removing the people’s ability to make deposits and receive withdrawals through American banks and credit card operators, the UIGEA aimed to deal with online gambling on a large scale.
With the rise of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, however, stipulations contained in the UIGEA might no longer be enough. Since bitcoin is completely decentralized, it doesn’t require any middleman to complete transactions, which means that restricting financial institutions will no longer do the trick.
This creates an interesting situation for sure, as the UIGEA doesn’t really define gambling as illegal. It just stipulates that willingly sending transactions to or accepting transactions from gambling sites is against the law. With cryptocurrencies, this segment is completely gone, so it seems the Act simply doesn’t cover this possibility at all.
Legal or Not?
What most US players are wondering is whether gambling with bitcoin is still illegal under the UIGEA or not. And, although it would take a legal expert to cover all the possible angles, looking at the scope of the Act, it does seem like there is nothing addressing cryptocurrencies either way.
This means that cryptocurrencies could completely change the face of the online gambling industry in the States. With more and more casinos introducing bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies to their repertoire of deposit and withdrawal methods, players from the US will be able to once again access and play on online casinos, and receive their winnings – all without having to involve banks and credit cards.
Of course, many casinos still refuse to open their doors to customers from the States. A majority of sites are still reluctant to get entangled with the US market due to the unclear regulatory situation. However, as the number of players adopting cryptocurrencies grows, so will the number of casinos welcoming American players.
The whole situation could potentially lead to rebirth of online gambling in the States under a completely new set of circumstances. Of course, it is entirely possible the regulation will change to somehow include cryptocurrencies as well, but as things stand right now, it seems there is nothing legally preventing Americans from gambling with bitcoins.