I’ve not yet mentioned the Internet Gambling Act that was passed earlier this month by the US Congress. Under the Safe Ports Act, measures being pushed into law to protect US ports, it will be illegal for banks and credit card companies to take payment for online gambling from US customers. Tomorrow will see President Bush sign the act into law amongst controversy and disbelief from many.
This has effectively put the blocks on internet gambling for Americans and is causing a massive headache to the online gaming community. Hypocritically, the law doesn’t cover all types of online gambling. Horse racing is exempt, but Bingo isn’t. As a result US bingo fans will no longer be able to play the game online for cash.
This is not the place to go into the hypocrisy of this law or the missed opportunity the US government could have had to legitimise and make revenues from an industry that’s legal in the rest of the free world. US Bingo players have already begun protesting – there was a protest in Washington this week and online gaming fans are rallying against the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
There has been fallout for UK based internet casino and betting companies, but on the whole it has had little effect on the UK Bingo market. It won’t effect UK players ability to play online for cash (unless they play at US sites), but it does mean that any American players who’ve been taking part in UK games will disappear.
We reported back in July that Gala were actively blocking US players from its site, and now more UK Bingo companies will be doing the same. A number of companies have already started suspending US players accounts, much to the chagrin of US Bingo fans. They have a point – it does seem like they’re being dumped after years of loyal service with little more than an email and bye-bye note.
One thing I think we will see increasingly here in the UK is a move of new, initially US based players into the UK online bingo market. Already The World Bingo Network are announcing the launch of a UK gaming network alongside the already established networks in the UK market. Bingo.com have also announced they are selling their database of players and online gaming servers – in the aim to moving into the European market. I’m expecting we will be seeing a lot more coming as this law get closer to being enforced.
Here at Playing Bingo, we’re expecting to see a massive growth in the UK online bingo market over the next year. 2006 has already been a bumper year for online bingo, and we’ll continue to follow the news and trends with continued interest. I wish I could say the same for our American Bingo friends. I really do feel sorry for them, they’ve been placed in a horrid situation by their government.