President Bush's signing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act bans the use of credit cards, checks, and electronic transfers to place bets on gambling websites on the internet. Analysts discuss the implication of the recent law.
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An estimated 8 million Americans made wagers online last year while playing poker, Blackjack, or betting on their favorite sports team, from the comfort of their homes and dorm rooms.
It was as simple as point and click: Log on to a gambling site; most are based outside the U.S. You would then set up an account, using a third-party company to manage the funds. Add credit card information and, within minutes, the gambling begins, at a virtual poker table in real time, spending and losing and sometimes winning real money.
The pastime may be over for many gamblers, since the president signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act on Friday, a piece of legislation Congress quietly attached to a bill on port security.
The act prohibits Americans from using electronic funds transfers, credit cards, and checks in placing bets with gambling sites worldwide. The bill holds banks and credit companies responsible for enforcement of the law.
Several foreign online gambling businesses gave up their U.S. operations after the bill passed. Estimates put the value of the American online gaming market around $12 billion in 2005.