The Internet always moves faster than lawmakers. So in the early 2000s as Americans began to log on to online gambling sites with increasing regularity the United Stares Congress lurched into action with no firm grasp on how to exercise authority over these rogue gamblers in this strange online world. The legislators unholstered their best legal guns and dredged up something called the Federal Wire Act of 1961. That law was aimed at horse racing tracks and outlawed the use of telecommunications lines to convey information that could be used for sports betting.
Phoning your bookie for odds on the third race at Santa Anita has as much in common with online gambling as casino night at the firehall does with internationally-based online operations but it was used to create the scary sounding Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006. Despite its name Internet gambling was in fact not made illegal – no online blackjack player in the United States has ever had a computer hauled from the living room by the federal government or been pulled from his house in handcuffs in the glare of local news television cameras.
The target for the enforcement is websites operating on United States soil that take bets and – most importantly to online card players – the banks that handled money from online gambling transactions. American gamblers could no longer move money between their safe local banks and online casino operators. It is not illegal for a U.S. player to sit at a virtual blackjack table but it is difficult to play without chips.
The trick for U.S. players then became funding a bankroll. There are three main considerations in this quest: 1) Is this legal?; 2) What is the best method for executing this statutory end-around?, and 3) Am I ever going to see this money again?
The easiest question to address is the last. The companies involved in the online casino cash business have familiar names like Visa, Western Union, PayPal, etc. Building your blackjack bankroll is no different than any other online purchase. Like any e-commerce transaction if you do your research to find a reputable vendor, the online casino in this case, a blackjack deposit should be completely safe. As for legality, the firm handling your business is assuming the risk so if a brand name company like Mastercard accepts your money for gambling purposes you can assume the exchange is legal.
So the options for making blackjack deposits in the United States comes down to factors such as ease of transactions, timeliness and costs. Let’s examine each of the current deposit methods.
And for more information about the safety of casino gambling as a US player, we recommend Randy Ray’s authoritative article on US Casino Safety over at casinogamestrategies.org.
There is nothing like the convenience of a bank-issued credit card. Of course the banks know that as well and assess processing fees to each transaction. In the retailing world the merchant unhappily absorbs those fees but online casino operators will often pass the charges on to players. For this reason member-based credit cards like American Express and Diner’s Club will not be as universally accepted as Visa and Mastercard. And due to the UIGEA even those two kings of the credit card universe will not always work for American blackjack players in online casinos. All Americans can do is try a credit card to see if it has been blocked for legal reasons. If you find a blackjack table you really want to play at and the credit card is flagged one time try it again at a later date since operators often update their processors.
When credit cards are accepted the deposit mechanism is familiar and fast. Enter the credit card information and some amount beneath your credit limit and the blackjack tables are open. Before going all in with your credit card, however, study the online casino’s withdrawal methods. Many do not transfers money to American Express, for instance, since it does not function as a regular bank card. Many times U.S. players must rely on a monthly check delivered by courier.
This method can sometimes succeed and is popular since no cash trail is left in its wake. It will require a bit of research to find the instructions used by each individual online casino. Wire transfers must typically be made person to person so someone with a name will be required to pick up the money for the casino and credit your account. This investment in time and effort will pay off in consistent and safe additions to your blackjack bankroll. It will also trigger much higher transfer fees. These fees can often be negotiated or waived for larger deposits.
For American blackjack players who are serious about maintaining a reliable source of funds an offshore account is a viable option, better yet moving to another country. This is a successful ploy as long as the foreign government’s laws do not change for the gambler’s ill. This tactic can take the form of residency in a foreign land or going through the machinations to open a foreign bank account.
Another way to take advantage of offshore funding is to purchase prepaid gift cards and money cards on overseas trips. Before dropping a lot of money in foreign retail shops and grocery stores make sure your favorite online casino accepts the cards. These are not tied to banks within the United States and can redeemed in online casinos with no legal strings attached.
Casino Prepaid Credit Cards
If no overseas trips are planned for your future these cash deposit instruments are similar to gift cards but are sold straight from the casino website. The cards are not backed by the casino account but by traditional banks and financial institutions so once again the American card player may or may not be able to get a bankroll funded with a casino-branded credit card is to give it a whirl.
Those are the most popular funding options for U.S. Players in online casinos. Since all are essentially tip-toeing around federal prohibitions none can be said to work 100 percent of the time. But millions of American players are enjoying blackjack online and money-hungry state governments have taken notice. Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada and the District of Columbia have all legalized online betting and others states are not far behind. More and more voices are being raised at the federal level to legalize, regulate and tax online casinos. It may one day be as simple to fund a virtual blackjack bankroll as it is to slide money across the table to a dealer.