What is the UIGEA?

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or (UIGEA), has been a subject of heated debate since it was passed in 2006. It regulates, or is supposed to regulate, banking transactions between U.S. citizens and online gambling establishments. It became law without any prior debate in the senate, as it was sneaked into the so-called SAFE Port Act of 2006.

Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act - UIGEA

It does not make playing poker online illegal. The law is aimed at the financial institutions and those companies involved in the business of betting and wagering.

Section 5363 does not make it illegal for a mere player to make bets or wagers. Rather, the Act applies only to those involved in the business of betting or wagering.The new law, therefore, only applies to online gambling operators who violate other existing state or federal anti-gambling laws. ” Source - Chuck Humphrey

Does the UIGEA make it Illegal to play poker?

The UIGEA prohibits the transfer of funds between financial institutions and online gambling sites, although it makes distinct exceptions for horse racing and online lotteries. It does not, however, explicitly prohibit internet poker or online gambling as such. The responsibility of upholding the law is essentially placed on the financial institution, a fact that is highly unpopular among banks and other payment processors.

USA Online Poker Poker Rooms Accepting US Players

Result of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

As a result of the UIGEA, some online poker rooms decided to withdraw from the U.S. market, while others continued with business as usual. Online poker players can still find some challenges as a result of the UIGEA, as it became increasingly hard to transfer money to the poker rooms regardless if they still accept U.S. players.

Note: None of the aforementioned information should be considered professional legal advice. The information presented on this page is an opinion of the owners of the website based on analysis and interpretations of existing laws and papers dealing with the UIGEA. It is the responsibility of the reader to make sure Internet poker is legal in their jurisdiction before playing online poker.