Consumer protection for America’s online gamers coming soon (maybe)

 

With the dominance of legal regulations and insurance requirements over American society, many U.S. citizens surely meet with surprise upon seeking legal assistance in a matter having to do with online gaming: To wit, there is no proper recourse to the user who needs consumer protection.

This state of affairs is mainly due to the U.S. federal government’s hurried passage of a bill called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (or UIGEA) as a statute among a proposed anti-terrorism regulation. Currently, the UIGEA is a bit of a paper tiger, essentially requiring U.S.-based financial institutions to police transactions between USA players and casino websites: This is close to being an utterly unenforceable law.

Unfortunately, while many players prefer the relative lawlessness of the internet gambling world and the great majority of reputable casino sites do an honestly decent job of self-regulating, the lack of definitive law on virtual gaming for money is a double-edged sword: Though the gamer may enjoy not having to divulge where he/she plays (and how much he/she wins), there is simply no way to legally lodge a complaint against an unscrupulous business owner.

Those in the online gaming industry often tout this reason as most salient for legalizing the activity: To protect the players. In fact, this ultimately may force those who would rather not see any sort of wagering activity exist at all to acknowledge the necessity of consumer protections for gaming.

What would such regulations look like? The industry’s main player in attempting to create consumer protection and some kind of consumer rights package for the sphere is Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.), who has proposed a few variations on his “Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act” of 2008. This act would seek equanimity between players and online casino owners based on findings that:

• Present-day internet gambling is offered by operators located in various countries with various licensing and regulatory regimes;
• no regulations exist to protect U.S. citizens who play poker or online casinos and other games online, and no standards of integrity and fairness;
• any entity which is licensed to provide internet gaming within the U.S. would of necessity be heavily regulated and monitored; and
• individual state and tribal governments would be exempt from any new legalization activity of casinos and could disallow their citizens from playing gambling games.

The UIGEA law is subject to enter into force on June 1, but the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means will be hearing testimony on regulation and consumer protection in internet gambling up to that date. Frank’s bill has been slowly acquiring more signatures and thus adherents in the ‘House, so America’s online gamblers may actually soon have the same rights as any other consumer in the country. More on this visit live casino direct that covers many aspects of online gaming and legal framework associated with the igaming industry.

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