The passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) had disastrous repercussions for Microgaming’s relationship with US players, causing the software developer to first block residents of several states and then to completely withdraw from the American market. The UIGEA is part of the Safe Port Act, which the Senate passed on September 14, 2006. Interestingly the UIGEA was passed only September 30, 2006, giving the impression that it was “tacked on” to the Safe Port Act, possibly to avoid a Senate debate of this piece of legislation.

At this time, residents of the United States cannot play Microgaming games at any casino.

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What exactly is the UIGEA?

Many people assume that the UIGEA prohibits online gambling by anyone living in the US. In fact, the actual wording of the Act is somewhat different. It forbids the transfer of funds from financial institutions to gambling sites on the Internet – for example depositing to an online casino by bank credit card – but does not limit the actual gambling itself. However, due to the confusion about the intent and implementation of the UIGEA, various online casinos adopted their own policies about operating in the US or accepting American players.

Microgaming and the US Market

Microgaming originally decided to keep its US operations. However, in September 2008, Kentucky Judge Thomas D. Wingate seized the domain names of out of state gambling sites. Fearing further court cases, Microgaming backed out of the American market. A few Microgaming casinos continued their operations in some states, although they did not accept new US players. Shortly prior to the time that the UIGEA officially came into effect June 1, 2010, Microgaming sent notices to its American customers informing them that it would no longer be accepting wagers from the US and requesting that they withdraw any funds on deposit before that date. Obviously Microgaming was protecting its licensees. The company realized, though, that eventually there would be licensing in the US and wanted to give itself and its operators the opportunity to apply for licenses once they are available.