June 1, 2010 (CAP News Wire) – After months of debate and delays, the day has finally arrived: In the United States, the UIGEA (2006’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) officially goes into effect today.

But does that mean anything to the online gambling and Internet poker industries — which weren’t previously, and currently still technically aren’t — operating illegally? Nobody really knows for sure what’ll happen today, but plenty of people are speculating. “This speculation ranges from no major impact at all to a complete lockdown of US accounts,” FlopTurnRiver.com explains.

Most industry figures are confident that the regulations won’t amount to problems for the industry. John Pappas, the executive director of Poker Players Alliance, has called the UIGEA “a bump in the road”, and predicted that “’new payment methods will emerge’ before the game itself is completely legalized,” according to DailyFinance.com.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the end of Internet poker as we know it,” Pappas was quoted in California’s Press Enterprise.

Technically, that’s absolutely true. The UIGEA only imposes penalties for financial organizations that process payments for the online gambling industry; it doesn’t label the act of online gambling or playing poker on the Internet as illegal.

But it’s understandable that a lot of players — and even online gaming affiliate marketers — don’t really understand this. It’s assumed that the UIGEA has made the entire act of gambling online illegal.

That isn’t helped by the fact that many international online gaming brands refuse to do business in the United States for fear of being ensnared in the UIGEA’s legal tentacles, even though it’s unlikely.

Some have even speculated that, since the UIGEA doesn’t really make online gambling illegal, it’s simply a political ploy designed to drive foreign online gambling brands out while lawmakers craft new laws that would deliver the multi-billion dollar online gambling business directly into the hands of American companies. (Not so far-fetched, really, when you consider that California’s new online gambling regulatory proposal specifically states that only California companies will be able to enter this lucrative market.)

So, now more that even, it’s important to stay on top of what happens in the online gambling legal world. What are lawmakers like Barney Frank and Jim McDermott really proposing with their pro-online gambling bills? Would changes to the online gambling laws drive out the international online gambling brands upon which many online casino affiliates rely for their business? Or would it make the iGaming business better by creating stronger brands with stronger ties to players on a regional level?

All that is debatable, and it should be debated, as we continue to watch lawmakers try to fix or repeal the UIGEA.

But in the meantime, don’t forget: Online gambling — and online gambling affiliate marketing — is still legal in the United States.

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