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UIGEA Law Explained

Flag Of The United StatesMany Americans misinterpret the objective and the reach of the UIGEA bill. This law does not prohibit US residents from participating in legally sanctioned sports betting, but rather asserts regulations concerning how online gambling transactions can be processed. It is not specifically applied to any one gambling venue, nor is it targeting bettors.

This page will clear up those kinds of misconceptions and provide an accurate interpretation of this law's impact on US sports betting so players can make informed decisions about the legality of betting on sports.

The UIGEA And How It Affects Sports Betting In The United States In 2024

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act applies to online gambling operations and websites which accept and promote financial instruments or payments that fund accounts. This is not relegated just to sports betting sites, and also applies to online casinos and poker rooms.

The UIGEA was signed into law on Friday, October 13, 2006, and basically adds legislation to existing financial provisions of Title 31 of the United States Code. Subchapter IV discusses the "prohibition on funding of unlawful Internet gambling".

Sections 5363 and 5366 of UIGEA "criminalize the acceptance of funds" by operators of almost all gambling websites. The law does not restrict itself to simply US-based businesses, and attempts to regulate non-US businesses as well.

How The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act Oversteps Its Reach

However, the World Trade Organization (WTO) argued on behalf of the country of Antigua that US gambling legislation could not govern countries which fall outside of US law.

Antigua sued the United States for $3.4 billion in trade sanctioning because of money lost in its online sports betting and gambling industries due to UIGEA enforcement. The European Union also made similar claims against the US.

The Antigua complaint claimed that the United States was in violation of its treaty obligations by not allowing "full market access" by its citizens to the online gambling companies headquartered and operated in the island nation. The WTO confirmed in 2007 that the United States lost the legal case.

Further challenges to the UIGEA legislation have continued to this day. Congressman Barney Frank introduced the "Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act" in 2009, seeking to repeal several online sports and casino gambling statutes in UIGEA. That bill was actually passed but only limited UIGEA until the year 2010.

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act is still in effect in the United States. But ever since President George W. Bush sought to keep secret the details of the United States courtroom loss to Antigua, the UIGEA has been frequently challenged and its efficacy questioned.

UIGEA is Passed Without Any Legislators Knowing Its Final Language

Passed on the very last day before Congress adjourned for 2006 elections, it is alleged that not a single person on the Senate-House Conference Committee had seen the final language of the bill before it passed. That is according to Senator Frank Lautenberg (DEM NJ), UIGEA was snuck in at the last minute as an addition to the SAFE Port Act.

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act had absolutely nothing to do with port security, which was the driving force of the SAFE Port Act. The Department of Justice even flip-flopped its eventual support of UIGEA in 2011. That is when the Justice Department said that individual states should be able to dictate their own online gambling destinies, with no federal oversight.

As a law in the US, the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act is directly aimed at banning and outlawing Internet gambling funding. As the other pieces of sports betting legislation we have covered here indicate, there is no hidden or transparent effort to criminalize individual sports bettors.

This means that United States citizens and visitors that want to enjoy some responsible, adult legal sports betting online can do so. They just might experience problems that come under the scope of US law or governments.

Laws like UIGEA have paved the way for legitimate, authorized Internet sports betting sites to provide a reliable option for US residents, and they have been doing so for decades.

So while the UIGEA does creates problems for players looking to fund their online sports betting accounts, there are still many reliable USA sportsbook deposit methods that are safe and viable options for players.


Other Laws We Cover That Are Related To Online Sports Betting In The United States