At its heart, American capitalism is the story of duopolies. Competition between the top two leaders in an industry brings out the best in each: Coke and Pepsi, Ford and GM, Hertz and Avis, Visa and MasterCard. In 1966, America saw its first general-purpose credit card when San Francisco’s Bank of America introduced the BankAmericard (later Visa). The bank franchised the brand to banks across the country to enable customers to “buy now and pay later.”
The first bank card had been issued just after World War II by a Brooklyn, New York banker named John Briggins. With the “Charg-It” customers could make a purchase and the bill would be forwarded to Briggins’ Flatbush National Bank for reimbursement. The bank would then be responsible for retrieving the funds from the customer. The Charg-It was not a credit card but a “charge card” and the “loan” from the bank had to be repaid within thirty days. Charg-It customers also had to have an account at Flatbush National and could only use the convenience card at local merchants.
The charge card was a brilliant model in the post-war consumer boom and spread across the country. By 1959 the option of maintaining a revolving balance was introduced and the innovation of the Bank America network of banks was to free customers from the tether of maintaining an account with the bank issuing the credit card. Bankers took notice. First National City Bank (now Citibank) in New York brought out its The Everything Card and in California a consortium of big banks including United California, Wells Fargo, Crocker National and the Bank of California united to form the Interbank Card Association and issued its “Master Charge: The Interbank Card.”
In Long Beach, California Robert Leaville, a vice-president at member bank Farmer’s & Merchants, designed a logo with his son that featured overlapping red and orange circles. With subtle variations that logo is still used today. In 1969, First National Bank signed on with the Interbank group and rapidly the bank card marketplace whittled down to BankAmericard, to be renamed Visa, and Master Charge, rebranded MasterCard in 1979.
What Does All This Mean for Online Casino Players?
To do battle with one another, Visa and MasterCard have both been aggressive players in the international market. Today, MasterCard Worldwide is a co-operative of more than 25,000 financial institutions so any reputable online casino is likely to accept MasterCard for deposits (approximately 98% of Internet casinos will welcome the familiar plastic).
This is even more important for American players since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) was specifically crafted to prevent United States banks from handling online gambling transactions. With a vast network of foreign banks this becomes not so much of a problem for U.S. punters.
How Safe Is it to Use MasterCard at Online Casinos?
Using a MasterCard at an Internet casino carries no more risks than with any other online vendor. The credit card limits liability (usually $50) and should a casino go out of business with your money in the till the member banks will help you recover your cash. Note that these efforts may not be extended in jurisdictions where online gambling is illegal.
MasterCard also provides the latest available safeguards to protect your account number from being swiped in transmission. Fraud protection and identity theft is standard operating procedure and backed up with a full customer service brigade. MasterCard will not be used with withdrawals so there is no chance of having your winnings misdirected.
Why Use a MasterCard at Online Casinos?
Deposits made with MasterCard are fast and will require no credit checks so long as the information you provide to open your casino account matches the data on file with MasterCard. Fees are minimal or picked up by the casinos in many cases. The casino keeps the information on file so reloads to your bankroll are painless as long as you keep expiration dates and such current with the casino.
MasterCard accounts carry a credit limit so funds for maximum deposits may not be available. Individual casinos may also have minimum and maximum requirements for using credit cards.