Grange95 -- keeper of the excellent crAAKKer blog -- correctly chastised me for throwing the “unconstitutional” adjective around (with reference to the UIGEA), and I realized afterwards that my use of the word betrayed my layman’s status when it comes to discussing both the legislative and judicial processes. I also thought a little further about how it’s wrong to abandon hope with regard to further attempts by lawmakers to help us fight the sucker. Even if the prospects for such are bleak, the legislative approach probably does remain the most likely path to doing something about the UIEGA.
It’s such a frustrating law. The way the “final rule” instructs banks and financial institutions to comply leaves them enough wiggle room to allow quite a bit of freedom with regard to making judgments about what constitutes a prohibited transaction. If you look at the “Frequently Asked Questions” about UIGEA compliance that the American Banking Association has provided the banks, it’s clear that the likelihood of one actually being found in violation of the law appears pretty darned slim.
Nonetheless, they are most certainly blocking transactions. Depositing is growing increasingly problematic. And even withdrawing has become a less simple matter for some, despite the fact that (as those final regulations stated) “[u]nder the final rule, the term ‘restricted transaction’ would not include funds going to a gambler, and would only include funds going to an Internet gambling business.” Check out Joe Tall’s problems getting funds from Full Tilt Poker, and PokerGrump’s recent adventure with Bodog for examples.
(Incidentally, I did manage a successful cashout from PokerStars not long ago -- not necessarily a seamless transaction, though much smoother than what Tall and the Grump experienced.)
Yesterday F-Train offered some cogent commentary about where all of this might be headed as we watch the UIGEA continue to gather momentum, discussing both the “continuing deterioration of payment processing” (very likely) and the possibility that U.S.-facing sites could eventually abandon the U.S. market as too difficult to deal with (less likely, though possible).
Whether or not sites abandon the U.S., I’d imagine a certain percentage of U.S. players probably will remove themselves from the online game -- in some cases out of necessity, and in others because the hassles simply become too great to endure.
If they haven’t already, that is.