Casino Affiliate Program Legalities and the UIGEA
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Casino Affiliate Legalities
Tuesday, Dec 1, 2009
Having thoughts about the legality issues of Casino Affiliate websites in the US? This article gives you the heads up on the current legal state of Casino Affiliate sites.
Casino affiliates and the UIGEA
Like their poker affiliate brethren, US-based casino affiliates are in a bit of an awkward spot. While they’re simply building affiliate websites, or operating forums, or simply displaying banners and other marketing material, they’re also caught in the crossfire as the US government steps ups its efforts in recent years to prevent US citizens from playing at online poker sites or casinos, activity that the US government considers illegal.
Online poker and casino sites quietly operated in a gray area of the law for years in the US. While the US government evoked the Wire Act (which made placing sports bets over the telephone illegal) to claim that online gambling also was illegal (due to the fact that the Internet uses the same infrastructure that telephone calls are routed through), there was no real legal precedent for that claim. Millions of US players gambled at online casinos (which were all legally operated and licensed by companies in foreign countries) and exactly zero were ever charged with a crime.Online casinos marketed freely to US players (as it was their single largest market worldwide), with many affiliate marketers promoting various online casinos due to the generous commissions and general demand.
In late 2006, however, the UIGEA act was passed in the US, which changed the legal landscape for online gambling in the US. While the real purpose of the UIGEA was to force US banks to take an active role in preventing funds from being transferred to and from US citizens and online gambling sites, it did broadly address other areas of the industry, including very vague language to the effect that any online gambling company and its employees can be charged for knowingly marketing to US citizens. In the wake of the UIGEA some poker and casino affiliates did exit that line of business, choosing to be safe and wait and see exactly what the impact of the legislation would be, how it would be interpreted, and if the US government would ever actively pursue charges against anyone in the affiliate business.
Fast-forward three years to today and, for all intents and purposes, the legislation has proven to be a non-factor for casino affiliates. Not only has implementation of the UIGEA been delayed multiple times due to its confusing and uncertain language, but the US government has obviously had much more pressing issues to deal with, instead of trying to criminalize the act of serving as a casino affiliate. There are still no legal precedents nor any attempts to charge US-based casino affiliates with any crime for promoting online casinos. The language of the UIGEA is still confusing and vague, and there has been no attempt whatsoever to argue that casino affiliates are in fact employees of the programs they promote, which is the only possible way that casino affiliates could be considered to run afoul of the law.
While you should obviously consult with an attorney if you’re concerned about the legality of acting as a casino affiliate in the US, there’s pretty much zero evidence to point towards any possible legal ramifications for serving as a casino affiliate in the US, based on either the UIGEA or older legislation such as the Wire Act.