Visa prepares for online gambling revolution in the US

Major credit card company Visa seems ready to compromise on its all-embracing ban on online gambling. With several states in the US revising regulations on online gambling and other states such as Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware having already legalised such gambling, there has been increasing speculation that new federal legislation concerning online gambling is on the cards. Visa appears to be ready to join the revolution. However it is still unclear how the credit card company will differentiate between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ gambling given the mass of tangled federal and state laws that govern gambling.

In a recent circular to interested parties Visa hinted at the ways in which such differentiation may be resolved. Visa outlined specific online gambling transactions that can be legally processed and which may offer a resolution to differentiation problems.

The credit card company’s merchant 7995 code makes allowances for various forms of betting. Visa suggests that merchants can meet credit card companies half-way by registering with the merchant verification value programme. Although registration involves a lengthy bureaucratic validation process, it does mean that the merchant receives a specific code which will speed up future transactions and help to avoid automatic blocking. The fee for this registration process is $5, 000, a not unreasonable sum when one considers the benefits for the merchant.

It is still unclear how this merchant verification value programme will evolve with the substantial changes taking place in the US online gambling market.