Yet another blow has been dealt to the offshore online gaming industy: EwalletXpress, a popular e-wallet used for depositing and withdrawing funds from sportsbooks and casinos, has been shut down by USA Federal authorities. This development has hurt many gaming websites, especially Rival Gaming powered casinos, which used EwalletXpress as one of their principle deposit methods for USA customers. Affiliates of Rival Gaming sites are having any funds deposited from EwalletXpress deducted from their accounts. International players and Europeans are relatively unaffected, since EwalletXpress catered to the USA market only. What does the loss of another processor mean?
Well, if you’re a USA online gambler who used EwalletXpress, you can no longer use this e-wallet to gamble online. Customers with funds in their account should get their money back soon. The authorities are now meticulously auditing EwalletXpress’s finances, and will claim any and all available funds for customers that used this processing option. This applies for both casino and sportsbook customers, since EwalletXpress offered its services to many different types of online gaming sites. When all is said and done, the only parties left holding the bag will be websites who have now lost thousands, if not millions, in player deposits.
Does this mean my favorite online casino is now closed, or off limits? Not quite. This government operation, sanctioned by the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act), which stipulates that no banks or other financial companies can process money to offshore e-gaming entities, was only directed at EwalletXpress. In reality, there is really little the USA government can do to close gambling websites, partly because they are based in other countries, and partly because there is still no express law that states offshore gambling is illegal. As a result, most websites can continue to operate with impunity, as long as they’re able to get money through the door.
What alternatives to EwalletXpress are available? For the meantime, UseMyWallet and Click2Pay remain open to USA customers who like to use e-wallets. Those who prefer to charge their credit card are still in business: just make sure your gambling site supports your credit card brand, which usually means you need to be holding a Visa card. In May of last spring, MasterCard pulled the plug on un-coded transactions, effectively freezing out any transfers to gambling sites. Since then, some companies have been able to bring MasterCard back online using foreign based credit card processors, but the possibility of this continuing without interruption from the USA government is next to nil. Undoubtedly, MasterCard would much rather cooperate with the government than shady financial processors based in Europe or Asia.
The safest of all deposit options, by far, continues to be bank wire or bank draft. Sportsbook or Casino customers interested in depositing using this method should contact their website’s customer service agents, who can provide all the necessary information required to make a transaction. There’s only one hitch: it may take between 3-7 days for bank wires to clear, and 5-8 days for any checks sent in the mail to arrive and clear at the gambling company’s bank. Generally speaking, offshore casinos and sportsbooks bank in Europe, in locations such as Malta, Andorra, Cyprus, or the United Kingdom, where online gaming is permissible.
For now, it’s best to stay on top of what processors are still available to USA customers, using casino/sportsbook player forums and other informational directories. If this trend in law enforcement continues, Click2Pay and UseMyWallet are almost certainly on borrowed time. If this recent development really peeves you off, we suggest letting your Congressperson know about it. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts and Chair of the House Banking Committee, has already proposed and had his committee pass legislation that would legalize and regulate some forms of online gaming. Will this bill actually hit the floor of the Congress, currently mired in more pressing matters? That remains to be seen.
So, now that EwalletXpress is now officially caput, get your Visa card out and ready to start making deposits. Our parting thought: take advantage of pre-paid Visa gift cards, which are essentially the same as cash. They can be bought at any of the large chain retail outlets, and fees for adding money to the card are minimal. Once bought and paid for, these cards are yours and not necessarily subject to any sort of regulation by the USA government.