In what seems to be an acknowledgement of the writing on the wall that legal online gambling is gathering momentum in the United States, the credit card giant Visa appears to be making moves to prepare for the revolution.
With Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware already legalised, around ten other states thinking about various forms of online lottery and other gambling, and growing speculation that a new federal legalisation initiative is shaping up , it’s hardly surprising that Visa wants to be part of the process….but how to differentiate between ‘illegal’ and ‘legal’ gambling in a country where political decisions and protectionist strategies have created such a confusing morass of state and federal laws?
Visa gave some indication of how it is approaching the differentiation problem in a recent circular to interested parties, reminding them that there are certain online gambling transactions that can be legally processed, and suggesting a way that may help smooth the process.
Visa’s merchant 7995 code for gambling transactions has a wide scope that covers just about everything from horseracing wagers to lottery tickets, and the company suggests that merchants can make life easier for themselves and Visa by registering with the merchant verification value program.
That involves a rather extensive and bureaucratic validation process certifying that the betting transactions the merchant wants to process are legitimate and legal in terms of the UIGEA, after which the merchant is given a specific code to speed future transactions and avoid almost automatic blocking.
Of course there is a fee attached to this, but it’s not disproportionate to the time and energy saved at $5,000.
What is not clear is how the merchant verification value program keeps abreast of the dynamic changes taking place in the US online gambling market, and whether repeated validation will be necessary every time a new legislative move changes the legalisation goal posts at state or federal level.