Posts Tagged ‘online gambling in us’

Ode to US Online Casino Gamblers: Where to Win Big This Fourth of July

Sunday, July 4th, 2010
Proof "that our flag was still there" and that U.S. citizens are still gambling online

Proof "that our flag was still there" and that U.S. citizens are still gambling online

Happy Fourth of July! In true spirit of this holiday, let us celebrate U.S. online gamblers. Since the American government doesn’t seem to care about protecting and guiding their citizens who, no doubt, are going to continue gambling online regardless of anti-online gambling legislation, Online Casino Suite is stepping up to the plate with patriotic flare!

That said, let’s talk some facts, shall we? For American gamblers in search of large jackpots to be won online, there are not as many options as there once was in the good ‘ol days (circa pre-2005) when the likes of Microgaming, Playtech and Cryptologic were in the U.S. market. But while these top-shelf, white label software developers certainly carry a large load of money to be won at progressive jackpot games, the fact of the matter is that – being open to the global online gambling market – there are more players vying for said progressive jackpots.

In other words, the greater the jackpot, the more competition. It’s the same concept as online casino slots tournaments – the more people participating, the greater the amount of guaranteed winnings. And the more the guaranteed winnings, well, the more players will keep signing up to play. In essence, it’s the snowball effect. Granted, winning a large progressive jackpot is contingent on a number of factors, the greatest of which is making a max bet and clicking the mouse at the precise millisecond at which the RNG decides to dish out the perfect combination of winning symbols.

The bottom line is that with the big-three aforementioned software developers bowing out of the U.S. market, it could be fathomed that U.S. players would no longer have any good options to win big at progressive jackpot networks. The only problem (well, not necessarily a problem) is that U.S. players were not swayed by the protectionist hankerings of their government (or the select few Bush puppets who snuck the UIGEA in as an attachment to a Port Security bill), and so continued to gamble on the Web at online casinos remaining open to U.S. players. As a result, the progressive jackpot networks at these online casinos practically blew up ten fold.

Real Time Gaming Software undoubtedly benefited the most from this consolidation of progressive jackpots. With most RTG powered online casinos open to the U.S. market, and many (not all) RTG casinos in good standing with players, American’s who were not already playing at RTG casinos began to frequent those RTG sites with solid reputations. Rushmore Casino profited immensely from this change, while Go Casino and the EH Gaming Ventures group further expanded their progressive network.

In fact, Go Casino and the Vegas Technology group (English Harbour, Millionaire, VIP Slots) benefited so much from this flow of traffic, they were able to host daily casino game tournaments guaranteeing hundreds of thousands in winnings every month. Naturally, their progressive jackpot networks benefited as well.

Go Casino, which shares jackpots with Online Vegas Casino and Crazy Slots Casino, now has a progressive jackpot tally worth over $2,000,000 and monthly tournament winnings worth over $400,000. The EH Gaming Ventures group of online casinos also has a hefty progressive jackpot tally and is currently hosting their Summer Slots Series tournament, guaranteeing over $500,000 in winnings.

As for Rushmore and sister online casino, Cherry Red, they have a progressive jackpot now worth almost $4 million. “Jackpot Pinatas” has reached the $1.6 million mark, “Aztec Millions” is fittingly worth over $1.2 million, and the combined total of “Shopping Spree” and “Mid-Life Crises” video slots have surpassed the $1 million mark.

Two other US facing software developers/online casinos with progressive jackpots worth mentioning are Top Game and Rival Gaming. Although smaller than Real Time Gaming, they have steadily been growing over the last five years. However, as with RTG, not all online casino operators using Rival and Top Game should be trusted. Many of them are based in jurisdictions where regulation does not take place, and although not necessarily intending to rip people off, simply do not have the experience necessary to keep an online casino afloat.

Where to turn to then? Well, not to toot our own horn or anything (ok fine, we’re tooting) but here at Online Casino Suite, we have taken great care in listing only those RTG, Rival, Vegas Tech and Top Game powered online casinos that have the experience and track records befitting for a recommendation. Having a personal relationship with the owners (we get to know them before granting a listing), we are very confident you will get a safe and fair bet at all of the online casinos listed on our online casino reviews page. Furthermore, if a dispute were to arise, we have direct channels for contacting the right people in charge.

In conclusion, this Fourth of July, celebrate your own rights as an American citizen and get educated about gambling online with OCS. We are here to answer any questions, and as always, ready to help in any way we can.

Charting the Waters of USA Facing Online Casinos: The Lowdown on What to Expect

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Online gambling in the USA. Take note, it’s a tricky thing. And apparently, it’s not getting less tricky. Now, before I scare you away from gambling at a U.S. facing online casino, let me just say that “tricky” doesn’t necessarily mean impossible. Nor does it mean unsafe or unfair. Let’s face it – until the U.S. government gets its act together, Americans must simply accept the fact that there are far fewer options when making a wager online.

Furthermore, the processing of funds used for online casino gambling is no easy matter either. What exactly does that mean? Well, for the most part, it means that there are fewer deposit options and that withdrawals tend to take longer to process. It also means that if you happen to not get your money, i.e. duped by an unscrupulous online casino operator, there simply is no legal recourse to get your entitled funds.

That said, U.S. residents who just have to get their gambling fix online (which I really can’t criticize considering the odds are far better online than they are at a good ‘ol American land-based casino), need to use caution when surfing the waters of U.S. facing online casinos.

Chiefly, there are three software developers that permit their online casino licensees to accept U.S. wagers. They are Real Time Gaming, Vegas Technology and Rival Gaming. The big dogs – Microgaming, Playtech and Cryptologic – backed out of the U.S. market a long time ago (to their chagrin), while the smaller aforementioned outfits simply left it up to individual operators to choose for themselves whether or not to pursue the lucrative U.S. market.

The only problem is that NOT all of the online casino operators using these software providers are to be trusted. Not that they are all crooks (although some very likely are), the problem is that anybody with a fair amount of money to put down can open an online casino. Whether or not they can maintain the operation of an online casino without going bankrupt is another matter.

This is what differentiates a white label online casino from…well, a non-white label online casino. Stay tuned for future blog posts here at OCS for more clarification about this and how you can arm yourself with the knowledge to make safe decisions regarding which online casinos to play and which to avoid. In the meantime, please check out our best online casinos page for a shortlist of what OCS and many players consider to be the best online casinos accepting U.S. players. We have done the due diligence researching all of these sites, and their track records speak for themselves.

U.S. Facing Online Casinos Help Players With Debit Gift Cards for Making Deposits

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
Take Your Pick! Gifts Cards for Online Casinos

Take Your Pick! Gifts Cards for Online Casinos

With the June 1st deadline to enforce the UIGEA fast approaching, many online gamblers are wondering if the “stupidest law ever passed” (thank you Barney Frank) will have an affect on their online gambling activities. In other words, folks want to know if they are going to be able to deposit money – and most especially – withdraw their winnings from their favorite USA online casinos.

Basically, once the UIGEA is mandated to go into effect on June 1st, financial institutions and transaction processors are required by law to block online gambling transactions. But hold on just a second – not every online gambling transaction. You may recall that the UIGEA is filled with carveouts that allow fantasy sports betting, horseracing, and lotteries to accept online wagers. The only problem (and this is a BIG problem) is that the UIGEA does not define “illegal online gambling”, nor does it provide for any solutions or government backing in helping filter out all of the different kinds of online gambling transactions.

The American Banking Association has itself stated that effectively enforcing this law will be nigh impossible. Furthermore, there are so many ways around traditional methods of depositing with online casinos, i.e., credit cards and eWallets like Neteller and Click2Pay, which needless to say, have already enacted measures to block online gambling transactions with U.S. citizens.

One of the most effective methods being used to deposit at online casinos are credit/debit gift cards, which are essentially prepaid debit cards. Unless the U.S. government were to ban all prepaid cards (which they certainly cannot do), this method serves as a non-descript way of making “online gambling transactions”. The way it works is that cards must first be funded – either by direct deposit of paychecks, ACH money transfers, PayPal transfers or cash reloads at participating retail locations. Once the card has been funded, they can then be used to transfer funds to online casinos, poker rooms, sportsbooks, you name it. As for receiving withdrawals, worse case scenario is that players will have to wait a week or more to receive a certified check in the mail.

The question you must be asking yourself now is, “Where can I get a prepaid gift card?”. Truth be told, there are plenty to choose from. And quite frankly, there are likely to be plenty more spawned as the demand to circumvent traditional methods of depositing funds with internet betting sites continues. Remember, the UIGEA does not implicitly make the act of online gambling illegal. It simply prohibits the transfer of funds between financial institutions and online gambling businesses, which is carried out by the operators and not the bettors themselves.

In terms of fees, each card varies (there are plenty to choose from). Granted, some can get expensive. However, this is where your best friend Wal-Mart enters the picture. In addition to the swarming crowds of crazy people, Wal-Mart carries a comprehensive supply of prepaid cards, and also allows you to reload your card for future uses. Retail stores from drug stores to bodegas allow you to do the same. However, it’s Wal-Mart that imposes the lowest fees (around $3), while there’s no fee whatsoever if using the paycheck direct deposit method of funding your prepaid gift card. Depending on the card, a one-time activation fee and monthly fee may also apply.

The best way to go about finding a reliable prepaid debit gift card is to start a relationship with an online casino you would like to sign up with. In other words, open an account at a trustworthy online casino you know to do business with U.S. players (check out our Best USA Online Casinos page), and then contact the cashier while logged into your account. From there, they will be able to guide you on how to get your account funded. Just to name a few, some of the one’s players are frequenting include Green Dot (www.greendotonline.com), Vanilla (www.vanillavisa.com), Wired Plastic (www.wiredplastic.com), and NetSpend (www.netspend.com). These are considered some of the more affordable gift cards out there. For example, WiredPlastic has a one-time activation fee of $9.95 and monthly fee of just $3.95.

U.S. Internet Gambling Regulation & Tax Enforcement Act: The Latest Revisions

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

God Bless You Jim McDermott...You're a Damn Good Man and Politician

God Bless You Jim McDermott...You're a Damn Good Man and Politician

On the heels of a US House Committee on Ways and Means hearing this morning regarding the feasibilities of taxing online gambling in the States, it seems only fitting to shed some light on the legislation that stands the greatest chance of being passed with this end in mind.

Called the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act, this bill currently sits as a companion bill to the more widely known IGREA bill (Internet Gambling Regulation and Consumer Protection Enforcement Act), penned and touted by House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

The taxation companion bill’s author, Democratic Representative, Jim McDermott of Washington State, has been steadily working hard on this piece of legislation, and announced just this year he would be reintroducing the bill with several revisions, the least of which includes tax measures to encourage online gambling operators to operate on a legal basis – “legal”, meaning according to standards imposed by reg-
ulatory laws yet to be voted on by the U.S. Congress.

Obviously, that is the least of concern for anyone who is in support of regulating online gambling. First and foremost, the IGREA must be passed in order to, in effect, overturn the vaguely worded Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act – the bill that goes into effect on June 1, 2010 and which seeks to ban most forms of online gambling, including online casinos.

McDermott’s most noteworthy revisions to his bill include a revenue incentive measure for gambling-friendly State government’s and Native American tribes. This would impart a 6% rev share on all deposits that flow through them, likely operating in similar effect to Kahnawake Gaming Commission (that is, of course, if the Kahnawake Gaming Commission actually answered to federal authorities). Another recently introduced provision includes to revenue set-asides, and would designate 25% of said revenue to directly help foster care children and 0.5% toward historic preservation of the arts.

When all is said and done, the one thing that online gambling regulation in the U.S. has going for it right now is a massive federal deficit and several State’s on the verge of bankruptcy. This is precisely where taxation policy can influence the prospects of regulating online gambling by means of generating an estimated $41 billion for the federal government in ten years time. The ball is now in the court of the House Committee on Ways and Means, where pro online gambling legislation could soon be ready for markup.

Hearing to be Held in House Committee Regarding Taxation of Online Gambling

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Is regulating online gambling in the U.S. worth the tax revenue?

Is regulating online gambling in the U.S. worth the tax revenue?

In just two days, the United States House Committee on Ways and Means will be reviewing tax proposals to tax online gambling according to regulatory legislation yet to be passed into law. In fact, current legislative proposals have quite a long way to go before even the possibility of being passed into law becomes….well…a possibility. With the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) enforcement deadline fast approaching (June 1st), which was already postponed by nearly six months in December 2009, a more serious effort is now being taken to consider the prospects of regulating online gambling – most particularly, online casinos and poker rooms.

There is no denying the fact that legalizing online gambling would generate hefty amounts of tax revenue. However, just how much revenue is the question. And the better question is just how much at the cost of what? Being that the House Committee on Ways and Means has jurisdiction over taxation matters, the former question will be more closely examined than the latter at the Hearing on Tax Proposals Related to Legislation to Legalize Internet Gambling on Wednesday at 9:30 am.

Specifically, the Committee says it will be discussing revenue and tax figures resulting in the legalization of online gambling in the United States. Tax legislation has already been drawn up, as has a co-bill that would essentially overturn the UIGEA and give individual State governments the right to regulate on their accord. Overreaching regulatory legislation will trickle down from a Federal level, as will tax revenue between the Federal and State governments. Taking all of this into account, including the counter effects of the UIGEA and electronic eCommerce research undertaken by the Department of Treasury, will be the task at hand for the Committee.

The UK government, which passed legislation to regulate most forms of online gambling back in 2005-2006, could serve as a model and gauge for predicting potential tax revenue, although it isn’t known if the Committee plans to take an extensive look at the UK Gambling Act, let alone discuss it during deliberations.

What is most promising is that several Committee members have expressed sincere interest and even adamant hope in overturning the UIGEA and passing strict legislation that would effectively regulate online poker and online casinos, including Nevada Representative, Shelley Berkley.

Anyone interested in supporting the cause further can do so by visiting www.waysandmeans.house.gov and participate in the discussions by means of submitting a written record. In order to do so, send an email to wmsubmissions@mail.house.gov and include your name, organization, address, phone number, contact email address, and title of the hearing (Hearing on Tax Proposals Related to Legislation to Legalize Internet Gambling) in the body of the email. Attach your submission as a Word document. If all required information is provided, the statement may be included in the Table of Contents and printed in the hearing record.

Live Dealer Online Casinos Growing in Popularity as Operator Transparency Lags

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

If you’ve been around the block a couple of times, there is a good chance you’ve heard of – possibly even tried out – live dealer online casinos. One of the next big modes of iGaming, live dealer online casino gambling could very well supersede mobile cell phone wagering in popularity over the next ten years. Of course there will always be those who prefer the autonomy and flexibility of online casinos. However, in a time when there are no international standards of operator transparency, going with live dealers seems to be the proper fix.

Even with online gambling regulation being embraced throughout Europe (and more on the way), some Euro online casinos offer players more assurance in terms of odds and fairness than others. While much of this can be traced back to the software developer responsible for imposing licensing conditions on operators, the real crutch lies with the regulatory bodies. In Europe alone, there are over ten jurisdictions – all with slightly different regulatory provisions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that players are at a greater chance of being cheated; However, it does mean that player trust will likely lag as a result.

For some players – and rightfully so – there are simply too many unanswered questions when it comes down to guaranteeing fair odds. For example, just because an online casino links to a published payout percentage report (as required by it’s regulatory license), if said payout report is several months old, what’s to say the current payout is anything but what was last published? In other words, while an outdated payout percentage report doesn’t  necessarily equate to being cheated in the here and now, it necessarily doesn’t mean you are getting fair odds either!

This is precisely why more players are turning to live dealer online casinos, and why the live dealer sector is expected to grow over the years. What you see is what you get. Live dealer gaming is pretty much the same experience you will find in a brick ‘n mortar casino, save larger cards and a slightly slower play time – which is something you won’t find me complaining about. Live video feeds are synced up between the virtual online casino and a player’s personal computer, revealing everything from an initial card count and verification to uninterrupted play being monitored by a floor manager.

Although there are no live dealer online casinos currently open to U.S. residents, rest assured that when it happens there will be a floodgate of traffic for the live dealer sectors. No other online wagering jurisdiction is more prone to scams and could fare better with heightened transparency and player trust – the aftereffects of attempting to ban online gambling.

USA Online Gambling Regulatory Update: Frank’s Bills Delayed; Amendments in Mass

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Currently, there are several areas in the U.S. online gambling legislative landscape that are experiencing a major upheaval. One, of course, is the overall federal stance toward online gambling as a whole in the States. The other resides on a State level, which at this time, is primarily being soaked up by Kentucky and Massachusetts. In other words, no other two States are making as many headlines in regards to online gambling legislation.

Not that I’m sick of talking about Kentucky (okay, maybe I am), it’s just that what is happening in Massachusetts is more about legislation than the legal battle currently taking place in Kentucky. As reported earlier last week here at OCS, Massachusetts is currently seeking to expand gambling. However, certain provisions slipped into the legislation would call for an outright ban of online gambling – going so far to impose a prison sentence on those who participate in online gambling.

The latest word on the street in Massachusetts is that several alternative proposals have been given to amend the legislation, including several dealing specifically with online poker. These include a provision introduced by House Representative, Robert Nyman, to provide an exception within the online gambling ban to games of skill, including online poker. Other proposals seek to ban all forms of online gambling other than online poker.

So yes, the online poker industry definitely has their fingers in this one, folks. This is no surprise considering how big online poker has become in the US over the last ten years, not to mention the lobbying power of groups like the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). Just how the final bill turns out in Massachusetts is anybody’s guess, although proponents of the original bill are already claiming victory. Their belief is that the bill will easily pass the House, and will, perhaps, see some amendments in the Senate.

As for the federal debate on online gambling, it looks like Barney Frank’s bills to overturn the UIGEA and provide regulatory guidelines is being postponed for a hearing to take place in the House Financial Services Committee. By no means up for a markup (just yet), the two bills will be scheduled for a hearing in due time as the Committee tends to previously scheduled matters.

New Hampshire Governor Open to the Prospect of Regulating Online Casinos

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Among the U.S. States whom would be interested in legalizing and taxing online gambling if the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was overturned and regulatory mandates were passed, i.e, Senator Jim McDermott and Barney Frank’s companion bills – the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act and the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act – it’s a good bet to add New Hampshire to the list.

Governor John Lynch, who actually opposes brick ‘n mortar casino gambling and slot machines, is saying he may very well support legislation that would regulate and tax online gambling. In fact, Governor Lynch will be unveiling a plan next week to help New Hampshire close a fast-growing budget deficit during trying economic times. Of the many options in this plan, one of them is online gambling.

Lynch’s critics, or rather, those who oppose online gambling for one reason or another, have already spoken out against the prospects of regulating online gambling. On of these critics is Senator Bob Clegg, who just so happens to be a lobbyist for a golf club seeking to build a casino resort in the city of Hudson. According to Senator Clegg, “The governor is worried about proliferation of gaming, but it sounds like he’s going to make every computer terminal in every home and every BlackBerry — including those BlackBerrys held by kids in high school — a gambling facility.”

What Senator Clegg doesn’t understand however, is that when online gambling is properly regulated – as it is in the United Kingdom – minors are blocked from opening accounts at online casinos. Strict identity checks and fraud prevention protocols also prevent illegal credit card use and money laundering. And if State’s were given individual say in regulating online casinos, the minimum age could be raised from the generally accepted eighteen year benchmark, which needless to say, most land-based casinos operate by.

Of course, at this stage, Governor Lynch’s idea to regulate online gambling is nothing more than wishful thinking. If the UIGEA is permitted to come into law in June later this year, rather than being overturned, it will be black-market, underground business as usual.

PayPal Overblocking Online Transactions Due to Ambiguity of UIGEA

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Many people have wondered why exactly it is that the American Banking Association, the world’s largest credit card companies, and even the Federal Reserve have said all along the supposed US online gambling ban – the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) – would be nigh impossible to enforce, considering all of the carve outs and discrepancies in the bill. I mean a carve out is a carve out, right? Simply identify which forms of online gambling are illegal and block those out.

As nice as this would be, the reality is that the UIGEA does not give transaction codes for specific forms of gambling that should be deemed legal or illegal. Furthermore, every State’s laws are slightly different, so what may be legal in Kentucky (horse racing) could be illegal in a different State, and vice versa. In other words, the UIGEA has placed this huge responsibility – and what some will say is an insurmountable task – on US financial institutions and payment processors.

Case in point is the recent fledgling of affairs at the South Florida Blues Society, which recently send a member-wide email out explaining that internet transactions for the group are being inadvertently blocked because Paypal has mistakenly listed their website as an online gambling website. Now, of course the South Florida Blues Society is a music fan club and has nothing to do with offering online gambling services. But that’s how it goes when you give payment processors the difficult task of filtering out millions of transactions made every day of the year – some related to gambling, some slightly related to gambling, some for legitimate online gambling and some for illegal online gambling. Oy!

The South Florida Blues Society is now even having trouble processing payments made with Visa and Mastercard – both of which have recently been making a wholehearted attempt to comply with the regulations of the UIGEA – the implementation of which has been delayed until June 1, 2010. At less than two months away, getting the UIGEA “successfully” implemented looks even more daunting and impossible than ever.

True Poker Owner Comes Forward in Kentucky Domain Name Case

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Honestly, I am totally sick of talking about Kentucky and the online gambling drama that has been taking place here for the past year-and-a-half. But you know what? I am going to keep talking about it, because when you look at the big picture, it’s all about principle is it not? The domain name seizure instigated by Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, is more than about online gambling legality and protectionism. It is about internet rights and your rights as a U.S. citizen.

It makes sense then that the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), whose mission is to foster and promote innovation, openness and freedom on the internet,  is taking the lead and representing the multitude of online casino, poker and sports betting operators affected by the domain seizure – 141 domains to be exact. Some of you may recall that iMEGA was seeking to file a motion with the lower Court of Appeals to overturn the domain name seizure, which included several well known online casinos, poker rooms and sports betting sites.

The only catch is that Kentucky’s Supreme Court thinks an industry group like iMEGA doesn’t have legal standing to represent anonymous parties. In other words, as Online Casino Suite reported just last week, the Kentucky high court says the domain name owners must come forward in order for the appeal to go forward. And now, that’s precisely what one site owner is doing.

Yatahay Ltd., which owns the domain name, TruePoker.com is having iMEGA file a new motion on its behalf. Serving as the guinea pig, so to speak, Yatahay’s fate in the case (which will likely be no worse than having the appeal denied) could stand as the precedent for all other domain name owners to come forward and challenge Governor Beshear’s outlandish and unprecedented actions against internet freedom.

As you can imagine, there is still plenty more to unfold in this case. And yes, OCS will be reporting on it. As much as I will do my best to keep from bashing Governor Beshear with some straight up basketball trash talk and gagging when I hear the name of Kentucky, I can make no promises.