Ending the Madness !

After last week’s seizure of four major online poker sites many are wondering if internet bingo sites will be spared the wrath of the US ‘Justice’ Department. The government’s sneak attack against the online gaming industries left many players and industry observers stunned by the heavy handed actions of the US government. Since the passage of the unpopular and ill advised UIGEA enforcement has been lax and the most recent action was unexpected.

There were warning signs that the government may clamp down on internet gaming websites. The recent shutdown of several major payment processors signaled that other actions may be in the works. For years poker and internet bingo players in the US have used every trick in the book to fund their accounts and collect their winnings. Most online poker and bingo players believe the recent actions are contrary to the principles of freedom upon which the US was founded. The US government is seeking $3 billion dollars from the poker operators which may be the sole reason for the shutdowns. When there are billions of dollars at stake the government wants its cut.

11 defendants have been indicted on charges of ‘money laundering’ and ‘fraud’, bank accounts have been frozen and domains have been seized. A couple of the sites closed down have switched to .eu domains and have banned American players. Thousands of players have no way to access their accounts or contact online customer support. The government is masquerading behind a pretense of protecting the ‘public good’ but not many Americans are convinced by the sophistry of DOJ statements.

Many in the online gaming industry are speculating that things will get worse for American players before they get better. Many had hoped that the Obama administration would be more sympathetic to online gaming but this has proved to be a miscalculation. So far the ‘Justice’ Department has focused its attention on major players that will produce the most revenue for the government. Since internet bingo produces much lower revenues than online poker in the US most internet bingo sites are not likely to be targeted by the DOJ.

Most believe that actions by the US government are about the money. Thanks to the passage of UIGEA the US government has lost billions in potential revenues. There may be light at the end of the tunnel. There is proposed legislation in congress that would pave the way for online gaming to be taxed and regulated in the US. Hopefully the legislation will clear both houses of congress and the madness will end.