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Is UIGEA going to be repealed? It might as well be

It’s the dawn of a new era in the US. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, in place since 1992, is unconstitutional, it means that states have the power to determine whether they will allow sports betting within their own jurisdictions.

Fans celebrate

Fans celebrate

UIGEA, or the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, “prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.”

So what betting or wagering is unlawful under federal or state law? Well, sports betting is no longer illegal under federal law – and it’s already fully legal in some states, with others hot on their heels due to the PASPA repeal.

Prior to the PASPA repeal, there were only a certain number of states and tribal areas where sports betting was legal. With the Act struck down, we are about to see a whole different ball game, so to speak. New Jersey, the original proponents of the change have been first off the block in terms of drawing up new laws surrounding sports betting, and now Delaware has been the first state to implement full-scale legalized sports betting.

Other states that have recently passed bills are Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Mississippi. Bills have been introduced already in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and California.

What’s on the menu for each? It varies, from place to place. Generally, placing certain types of bets on professional sporting games will be fully legal in casinos – not surprising, given the NFL franchise is everywhere, people are mad about NBA from coast to coast, and the MLB sees plenty of action, too. From there, other laws differ.

There is no doubt that many of the states legalizing sports betting will be wanting to take advantage of the internet to provide managed betting services that make conducting sports betting much easier and less frictionless. How states incorporate management of online betting services and licensing will be up to them individually.

While Delaware has introduced sports betting in three of its casinos, there aren’t currently any plans in place for online wagering. Their new legislation, after the PASPA repeal, was easy to usher in due to no hurdles to jump over in offering full sports betting in these casinos. Parlays were already available in the state through its lottery system. Delaware are offering this legal sports betting in casinos by using William Hill as their administrating company. Currently, professional games can be bet on, however placing bets on college basketball and football games isn’t currently available.

Rushing legislation through is fine for now, but Delaware will likely have to think about further legislating sports betting shortly, to keep up with other states.

One state that’s clearing the way for online sports betting is Michigan. There are multiple bills currently in the system in Michigan, one of which is regarding the specific provision and licensing of internet gambling.

The bill itself talks about internet gambling overall, with a brief nod to sports betting and simply states that online gambling via sports betting would be limited to whatever federal and state laws are in place (surrounding sports betting). The bill was written up before PASPA had been repealed.

So – let’s get back to the UIGEA. Currently, the only states allowed to offer online gambling are those that are allowed to conduct gambling operations as decreed by the federal government. Still less states than have legal gambling have enacted legislature to regulate online gambling.

However, the PASPA repeal means that any states who introduce sports betting may also introduce online sports betting – it will be their decision to make.

With the repeal of PASPA and likely introduction of online sports betting by many states, it will be interesting to see what effect all this has on other forms of gambling. Will there be a push to legalize other forms of online gambling, too?

The UK is the model that the rest of the world looks to when it comes to a large, regulated industry where there are plenty of gambling avenues to choose from and there is an open market. In the UK, sports betting is huge – and online sports betting even more so, however there are also plenty of land casinos and online casinos to choose from too.

In terms of sports betting, the UIGEA is now a non-issue, at least in states where they are considering or implementing sports betting regulations. The power lies in their own hands with regards to how they wish to deal with online sports betting. It would be surprising if many states didn’t seek to introduce online sports betting, what with the fact that people are already currently doing it (illegally) through offshore apps, along with the benefit that it could be a great revenue raiser for the state.

For all you sport fans out there living in progressive states this is surely a cause for cheer. And for everyone else living outside one of these particular jurisdictions, it might just be a good excuse to go on a bit of a road trip with your buddies – with no need to head all the way out to Vegas just to have a bit of fun anymore!

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