US I-gaming Prospects
US I-gaming Prospects
GBGC paid its first visit in a few years to the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas in mid-November.
One of the hot topics on the conference agenda was the possibility of i-gaming being regulated in the US. Indeed, it was the first time in its 10-year existence that G2E had run a series of sessions dedicated to Internet gambling.
The early sessions were well attended but the opinions of the panellists would have done little to cheer those who are anticipating favourable legislative developments. A general theme was that no-one had any real idea what will happen with legislative developments.
Most speakers did agree that there was little to suggest the Frank Bill, and its associated McDermott Bill, would be heard during the “lame duck” session (the period between the old Congress finishing and the new Congress starting in January).
The issue of Internet gambling is simply not a priority for Congress, so a standalone bill, such as Barney Frank’, has little chance of success. Seemingly, the best (but still faint) chance of success would be if an i-gaming bill could be attached to another, unrelated Bill that was being voted on. Followers of Internet gambling issues will know that this was exactly how UIGEA was passed in 2006, when it was attached to the SAFE Ports Act and was never voted on directly.
If nothing occurs during the lame duck session then in 2011 the emphasis would shift to individual state regulation rather than a federal proposal.
One factor working against Internet gambling in the US is the multitude of vested interests that are involved. Even those supporters of i-gaming who are working towards the same goal are undermining their own efforts by having so many lobbying groups – fragmentation is diluting the message.
But other influential groups are just as uncertain as to their position on the matter. The Indian tribes are a strong voice in US gaming but they are split as to whether they are in favour of Internet gaming or not. In some states the tribes have the sole concession to run class 3 (casino style gaming) and they are understandably wary of any developments that might conflict with their existing compacts.
As well as running its first dedicated i-gaming conference stream, G2E also added an i-gaming area to its exhibition hall. The small size and absence of major operators and suppliers from the i-gaming exhibition floor might reflect the real prospects for regulation in the US and the fear that the authorities are still out to get them.