The internet gambling conundrum: Extraterritorial impacts of U.S. laws on internet businesses

Abstract

Internet gambling is a significant commercial activity that has been successfully adapted to the online environment. The geographical transcendence of the Internet presents challenges for government regulation, which varies considerably. U.S. patrons have historically provided a significant portion of the Internet gaming market, despite a dubious legal status. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) enacted in October 2006 clarifies the legal status otherwise imposed by state law by prescribing felony criminal status to the Act of receiving an Internet wager from a jurisdiction where such wagering is illegal. This article provides an analysis of the UIGEA and its effects on Internet gambling firms, as well as related businesses. Despite targeting gambling firms, this legislation may also assist in the prosecution of other firms through aiding and abetting liability. UIGEA also targets financial services providers, requiring additional safeguards to stop unlawful transactions destined for Internet gaming sites. Financial markets suggest that this legislation has reduced Internet gambling in publicly traded firms. However, the bill may also have the effect of enhancing investment capital flows for online gambling firms, due to clarification of the legal status for firms who are not targeting U.S. residents in violation of UIGEA. The ultimate result may depend on whether other nations follow suit in targeting extraterritorial business with domestic gambling patrons.

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