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UIGEA - The SAFE Port Act

The United States government is known for making laws and regulations that make little sense as well as affect industry negatively. However, one of their most recent pieces of legislation is the UIGEA. This acronym may not mean much to most people, however, it affects the way that many casinos can operate in the United States. UIGEA is actually a part of an act known as the SAFE Port Act. This act is designed to help ensure the safety and security of American ports so that individuals who work and operate in these ports are protected from threats. There is nothing wrong with this portion of the legislation. However, UIGEA was added as a last minute addendum to this act and does not belong in it at all!

UIGEA actually stands for unlawful Internet gambling enforcement act of 2006. This act prohibits businesses from accepting payment from any individual making a bet in a game of skill. However, there are some exceptions to this including fantasy sports, online lotteries and horse racing. The UIGEA was actually passed on the last day before Congress adjourned for the 2006 elections. This portion of the bill was not included in the original version that was sent to the President for signing. However, this bill was added in a conference committee version and was included in the final version. Almost all publicly traded companies that are on the London Stock Exchange have announced that they will not accept payments from US customers and therefore shut down US operations due to the UIGEA. They are worried that their business will be affected by federal government intervention. However, many of the private companies continue to operate in the United States and have not been affected by the government since the legislation went into effect on January 19th, 2009. The legislation was actively enforced beginning on December 1st 2009.

UIGEA has been targeted as being anti-competitive as well as allowing outside interests to not open online gambling institutions in the United States. There are many companies, especially in Antigua who have been trying to allow US citizens to gamble for some time. However, the UIGEA as well as other legal actions has prevented the country from opening gambling to US residents due to being unable to take payment from them without violating a federal law. Antigua as well as the European Union filed for trade sanctions against the United States due to the passage of UIGEA. This is due to the fact that it is viewed as anti-competitive. Antigua simply wanted the US to open online gambling to their companies. However, the US refused to allow online gambling but did allow other concessions that were sealed but could costs upwards of $1 billion.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 is nothing more than a cover for the United States government to prevent individuals from gambling on the Internet. The companies that offer online gaming would generate tax revenue and not pose a security threat to the United States. However, the US would rather pay large sums of money than have another tax source!

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