In 1996 we saw an explosion of online casinos that swept through the whole world. The United States saw a huge increase in both online casinos and players. This huge increase of online players worried the land-based casino owners and they lobbied to have it stopped or at least slowed down. They knew if this pace continued they would see more of a decrease in profits. So they lobbied Congress hard and in 2006 the US passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (or UIGEA).
The UIGEA act prohibited all the banks and payment processors from processing any kind of transactions related to online gambling. This created a problem for players in loading and withdrawing money from their online accounts. While the companies continued to operate they had to use payment processors that could circumvent such restrictions. Despite all these laws related to online gambling, some online casinos continued to accept players from the US.
On the other hand, many of the bigger online brands left the US market, the choices for players became extremely limited. Many said it was very hard to find a good online casino. A lot of reviews sites started to pop up that directed players to the sites they so desperately looked for. Some of these sites were better than others, but they served the need that was created. Shortly after the market had started to stabilize and players were playing online again Black Friday hit the online gaming world.
Many casinos had found a way around the deposit and withdrawal problems and the online gambling world was growing once again. Many started to feel invincible to this new law. The government was not really enforcing it and it seemed like they had no intentions of doing so. This was certainly a false sense of security for both the players and online casinos. April 15, 2011, will go down in history as the day the online gambling industry was punished and punished hard. It was the start of a new era. The US Department of Justice charged the principals of the three largest poker sites Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker with bank fraud, illegal gambling offenses, and laundering billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds. The DOJ seized their domain names and their funds. Suddenly many US players were not just left with nowhere to play, but no way to recover their funds.
Black Friday forced many more gambling brands to leave the US. Everyone was once again scrambling to find new places to play, worried if they would ever get their money back, and wondering if anybody was going to stay in the US market. A major blow was struck to online gambling and many wondered if it would survive. Again the review sites played a major role in finding places for players to play. Now the market was very limited and it was a struggle to find online sites. Once again the market slowly started to stabilize and things settled down a bit. The market was damaged but survived.
The next major event was Gray Monday. Gray Monday saw more domain names and gambling operations seized. There were two main differences with these seizures. This time both big and small sites were seized. Many different sectors in the industry were seized including online poker, casinos, sports books and even bingo. Basically no one was safe now. Now the size of the company did not matter anymore. Nor did the industry you were in. This round of seizures was felt by everyone throughout the gambling industry. The full effects of this seizure have not been felt yet but there is now even less online US casinos available. Will the industry survive? It remains to be seen but it’s been hit hard.