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Duncan Willetts

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The History Of UIGEA

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or (UIGEA) was passed by Congress in 2006 much to the chagrin of the online gambling industry. Many online casino executives took the act so seriously it restricted players from the United States without even reading the statute to abide by the law. The history of the law is tremendously short due to the fairly new concept of internet gambling.

Since 1998, Congress has attempted to pass anti-online gambling legislation. These efforts continued to fail due to the hurdles surrounding the law-making process in the United States. Each year the bill was presented it was held up because of lobby groups each having their hand out. The result of this interference was Congress running out of time before the bill could be presented.

In 2006 the Republican Congress was fighting to segregate themselves from connections to online gambling lobbyist Jack Abramhoff who was surrounded by corruption and scandal. As a result, the party created the American Values Agenda which prohibited online gaming. The Agenda was led by Representatives Bob Goodlatte and Jim Leach.

They believed online gambling was removing billions of dollars from the American economy. Also, they stated online gaming was highly prone to fraud, national security, money laundering, and various forms of theft. These angles attempted to deter Americans from participating in the activity.

Despite their claims, polls revealed American’s felt online gaming was a personal choice. In 2006, the Conservative Congress flipped to a Democratic Government. Despite this defeat, Republicans cleverly attached the UIGEA bill to a Homeland Security bill just before the power shift. Therefore, the bill was passed and online gambling was no longer legal in the United States.

The entire political environment in 2006 favored anti-gaming legislation in both Houses. In the summer of 2006 two bills were introduced by the House:

  • The Leach Bill
  • Goodlatte Bill

The Leach Bill attempted to halt electronic fund transfers to online casinos. The Goodlatte Bill expanded the scope of the Wire Act to include online casinos and poker rooms. This came about through a change in the terminology of the business of betting. The House eventually collaborated on a single bill that combined aspects from both bills.
The UIGEA is a tremendously important piece of legislation for the United States. Although the potential for reversal is always on the mind of gaming enthusiasts, this may never become a reality due to the strict guidelines set forth by this act.

Card Cheating Ring From San Diego

A former casino card dealer was convicted in a federal court for being part of a San Diego-based casino cheating ring. He was condemned for conspiracy in a scam that profited $1.5 million from an Indian casino. Known as the Tran Organization, 41 members have pleaded guilty to scamming 27 casinos in the United States and Canada including the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA, the Barona Valley Ranch Casino in Lakeside, CA, and the Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, CA.

The False Shuffle

The ring recruited and bribed dealers to perform false shuffles which is a method that creates a set of unshuffled cards of approximately 40. During this process, a slug would be created which is a place card that notifies the criminals to track all subsequent cards. Other Tran Organization members would then track the specific order of the cards that were played to know which cards are next in the deck. This gives the players a significant advantage in games like blackjack.
When the slug would appear in the deck, Tran Organization members sitting at the table would know the order of succeeding cards and bet based on them. This led them to win thousands of dollars per hand from numerous casinos.

The Latest Conviction

The latest conviction of the Tran Organization was Mike Waseleski who was a dealer at Resorts East Chicago Casino in East Chicago, Indiana. He faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a hefty fine of $250,000 at his upcoming sentence on March 28th, 2011. In addition to the conviction of Waseleski, seven other dealers from the East Chicago resort were charged with similar crimes.

The Tran Organization

According to federal agents who have been tracking the Tran Organization, the card-cheating scam involved dozens of individuals many of whom work inside casinos across the country. Card cheating techniques are being utilized by the Tran Organization daily.

The Process

In 2005, Waseleski was flown to Houston to learn the intricacies of the cheating scam. He and other dealers were taught how to false shuffle during mini-baccarat and blackjack games. Members of the Tran Organization bribed casino dealers and their supervisors to perform false shuffles and create slugs. Once the members at the table could successfully track the cards they would signal the dealer to execute a false shuffle.

This is a common but difficult to detect scam that repeats itself across the country and under the watchful eye of casino surveillance. Hopefully, in the future, employee personnel will be better prepared to identify these illegal acts.