Tread Cautiously When it Comes to Online Gambling Bill

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

The UK press is warning publicly traded UK betting firms that the latest bill introduced by Congressman Barney Frank last week is anything but a sure bet.

Dominic Walsh of The Times advised:

Although Mr Frank is pushing for a vote before the August break, it is by no means certain to be passed. The anti-gambling lobby in the United States is powerful and reversing the online gambling ban is unlikely to be top of the agenda for the Obama Administration, which has more pressing issues to sort out.

Yet even if Mr Frank gets his Bill passed - there are suggestions that he could piggyback it on an unrelated economic stimulus package Bill - it could be 18 months before it becomes law and there is no certainty that overseas operators will get licences.

The earliest chance of a repeal of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act would come this July when a US Appeals Court is set to consider the powerful industry trade group, Interactive Media & Gaming Association's (iMEGA), challenge that the UIGEA is "Unconstitutional".

"We're very happy the Court is moving forward on this, and we're confident the Court will consider the real-world effect of the law, regardless of the DOJ's opposition," said Joe Brennan Jr., iMEGA's chairman.

And while a positive decision in this matter will most certainly allow for a sigh of relief, Brennan Jr. has acknowledged that the US Government could (and probably will) exercise its right to challenge such a ruling further. 

That said, iMEGA is not relying on lobbyist money.  Their efforts have focused on the courts rather than dealing with the divisive quagmire that is Congress.

As reported last week, the GOP announced plans to counterattack Barney Frank's legislative initiatives, and that includes online gambling.

Walsh also had this to add:

Even if Mr Frank's Bill sails through, it is hard to envisage that the protectionism that is central to internet gambling bans all over the world will evaporate suddenly. Nevada gaming revenues have just recorded their fifteenth consecutive monthly fall and the big Las Vegas operators, such as MGM Mirage and Harrah's Entertainment, are unlikely to sit idly by as a lucrative new source of revenue is handed to overseas companies.

Christopher Costigan, Publisher 

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