Posts Tagged ‘online gambling bills’

A Little Insight on Those Who Resist Online Gambling Regulation in US

Friday, August 6th, 2010
The ERLC's Latest Anti-Gay Poster...

The ERLC's Latest Anti-Gay Poster...

And to think I used to call myself a “Christian”. Okay, wait I take that back. Not that I don’t identify with the more universal tenants of Christianity and the true message which I personally believe Jesus preached, it’s just that I can’t deny the flaws in the doctrines espoused by the greater mass of Christian religions. The same is true in other religions, and I suppose then, that perhaps the more accurate statement is, “to think I used to say I was religious” (even though I never really did).

Anyhow, before this becomes about something other than what I’m not intending it to be, let me just say that anti-online gambling resistance is being vocalized once again up on Capitol Hill. And could you guess who just might be doing all this vocalizing? The ballpark answer “Christian organizations” would indeed be correct, although a more specifically correct answer would be that of Christian and pro-family leaders, including the likes of Southern Baptist and President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), Richard Land.

Would that be religious liberty for all religions, or rather, only those which place emphasis on so-called family values? Just askin’. Oh wait, if you look a little closer on the website of the ERLC, this group is actually the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. No really, you have to look close – it’s in very small writing under the ERLC logo.

And if this is any more telling about the values of the ERLC, the “Latest Word” from the Tennessee-based ERLC blog, which let’s just call the ERLC of the SBC from now on, is that Richard Land is “disappointed that an elderly liberal has been replaced by a younger liberal” in regards to the Senate confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

Land went on to say in “His Latest Word” blog, “I don’t think most Americans share Kagan’s judicial philosophy. But Barack Obama was elected president, and he has nominated someone who shares his judicial philosophy”.

This was capped with a dose of wisdom that will likely go down in history, putting both Plato and Socrates to shame: “People should remember when they vote that elections have consequences, long-term consequences.”

Joining Land and his stand against the regulation of online gambling in the United States, not to mention black presidents, is Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council Action, Tom Minner of Focus on the Family and Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America.

Needless to say (okay, I’ll say it anyway), Mr. McClusky’s first job was with the Republican National Committee and he now represents the FRCA before Congress on a number of issues, including the sanctity of marriage. As for the FRCA’s President, Tony Perkins, he is a staunch Republican who boasts in his bio as “pioneering measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law” and “launching initiatives to affirm and defend the Judeo-Christian values America is founded upon”. That makes sense, considering the FRCA spent half-a-million dollars campaigning to ban same-sex marriage in Colorado.

As for Tom Minner, he’s not even listed on the Focus on the Family website. However, the group’s founder, Dr. James Dobson, is a staunch Republican, supporter of Sarah Palin and general Obama hater. The stated mission on the Focus on the Family website goes something like this:

“Focus on the Family is a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive. We provide help and resources for couples to build healthy marriages that reflect God’s design, and for parents to raise their children according to morals and values grounded in biblical principles. We’re here to come alongside families with relevance and grace at each stage of their journey. We support families as they seek to teach their children about God and His beautiful design for the family, protect themselves from the harmful influences of culture and equip themselves to make a greater difference in the lives of those around them.”

As for Penny Nance, I’m not sure which “concerned women” she is speaking for. It’s certainly not my wife. Let’s just say that Nance is a contributor to FOX News and that the stated mission of the CWA goes something like this: “We are focused on helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy. There’s a cultural battle raging across this country and CWA is on the frontline protecting those values through prayer and action.”

In other words, the stand against online gambling regulation in the United States is basically a battle being waged by the Republican Party. Need I say more.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Discusses Imposing Sanctions on US

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

The tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda was one of the first jurisdictions to regulate online gambling in the world. Well, at least, it was one of the first online gambling jurisdictions to get on the map, so to speak, and become a haven for online casinos and all manner of internet betting sites.

That was in the early days of online gambling, and as such, it was also before the passing of the infamous U.S. online gambling bill (the UIGEA) seeking to make certain forms of internet wagering illegal, such as online casino gambling. While Antigua and Barbuda still operates a Directorate of Offshore Gaming to oversee the regulation of licensed betting companies, truth be told, their numbers are far down from times long ago.

Well, not that long ago. The UIGEA was passed only five years ago. But five years is a long time when we’re talking millions of dollars. Let’s see – about $105 million to be exact.

That’s the number based on $21 million/year for sanctions. And it’s a figure that Antigua and Barbuda is entitled to apply to levy on the United States as part of a World Trade Organization shortly following the passing of the UIGEA. Despite the U.S. government’s balking at a WTO ruling stating that the UIGEA put the American government in violation of a trading practices treaty, Antigua and Barbuda never received a penny in compensation.

Now, Antigua’s Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin Spencer, says the debilitating effect on its economy is very clear. Compounded by the global economic crisis, the tiny Caribbean island has certainly suffered since 2005. PM Spencer has made numerous attempts to reach a negotiated settlement with the U.S. government, but there has been no budging whatsoever, and an apparent disinterest to even deal with the matter.

Critics of Spencer’s plan to impose sanctions on the U.S. government – which he recently announced at the CARICOM summit in Jamaica – say the imposing sanctions would only further hurt the economy of Antigua and Barbuda, while having practically no impact on the U.S. economy. That’s a strong a legitimate argument to consider for sure.

Unintended Effects of UIGEA Encroaching Online Revenue for Horseracing Industry

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

It looks like more than just online casino operators have some “ish” with the U.S. online gambling ban – Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act – infamously passed under the Bush administration back in 2005 as part of an attachment to a port security bill. Surprisingly enough, it’s the same folks who would seemingly have benefited from the UIGEA, who are now complaining about, well, it’s ineptness.

Here’s a little background: When the UIGEA was passed, it basically banned all forms of online gambling, except for parimutuel horserace wagering and fantasy sports betting. I know, go figure. How are those any different than other forms of gambling? Anyhow, the only problem was that – despite the carve-outs – there were no guidelines on exactly how financial institutions and online payment processors would successfully go about filtering all of the different types of internet wagering transactions, i.e., online casinos, poker rooms, sportsbooks, bingo, skill games etc.

As a result, credit card companies are now erring on the side of caution and blocking most, if not all transactions that come through online betting websites. There simply is no way to confidently identify which transactions are allowed and which are not. Whereas there was more wiggle room for credit card companies during the last four years, now that the UIGEA has gone into effect (as of this year basically), online betting websites are now experiencing a spike in blocked transactions, some of which are apparently “legal”.

And not that U.S. players are not finding ways to gamble at online casinos (because they are), it’s just simply a big fat mess on the regulatory front. Looking back, Congressman Barney Frank’s labeling of the UIGEA as the “stupidest law ever passed” rings even truer today. So, while Barney Frank and others are working to get the UIGEA overturned and new legislation passed to effectively regulate online gambling, other politicians with interests in parimutuel horserace wagering are looking to pass legislation that would clarify the vagueness of the UIGEA.

Introducing House Representatives Scott Murphy (New York Democrat) and Brett Guthrie (Kentucky Republican). Basically representing the two largest horseracing jurisdictions in America, the pair are teaming up to drum support for the “The Wire Clarification Act”, aka House of Representatives 5599. The legislation, if passed, will apparently provide clarification that the Wire Act (the original bill that apparently made internet gambling transactions illegal, despite the fact that the internet didn’t even exist at the time) is not applicable under regulated activities of the Interstate Horseracing Act.

Now, I don’t know about everyone else, but does it seem strange there is no mention of the UIGEA in this bill? I mean, wasn’t the UIGEA supposed to supersede or at least clarify The Wire Act? It’s as if nobody wants to even touch the UIGEA. Why that is, is well, anybody’s guess. Stepping on toes maybe? Or is this a concession to the overall view that the UIGEA is such a messy bill that will eventually become null and void, and so why bother with it? It definitely makes you wonder.

In the meantime, Congressman Murphy from New York says the $210 million brought in from the Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course last year, contributed $18.5 million to the New York Racing Association, and that the industry itself is now worth $39 billion, with online wagering making up a “substantial portion” of said revenue.

GOP Circulates Memo Tying Jack Abramoff with Online Gambling Interests

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

As time draws near in which either the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) begins to be enforced (as much as is possible, of course) or proposed legislation to overturn the UIGEA and regulate online casinos is passed, the Republican party is gearing up for a fight. As reported by the Washington Post, the latest “card” being played by the GOP is none other than Jack Abramoff.Recently circulated on Capitol Hill is a GOP-backed memo arguing that while Jack Abramoff’s shameful lobbying tactics and ties to Indian casinos certainly warrants the jail sentence he is currently serving, the lobbying firm that employed Abramoff, Greenberg Traurig, has itself, been employed by online gambling interests, including the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) – a leading trade body formed of the biggest names in the online gambling industry and working to get online gambling legalized in North America.

In effect, the memo seeks to assert that it was Abramoff’s employer, Greenberg Traurig, that was in on the “criminal activities” carried out by Abramoff. But even if that was the case (however unlikely), the IGC never worked with Jack Abramoff in any capacity whatsoever. Furthermore, Abramoff was fired by the firm, apparently for doing things “his way”.

What may seem an ironic strategy, considering Jack Abramoff’s association with the Republican Party, could end up being a solid argument in the GOP’s fight against online gambling, or rather, fight to protect land-based gambling interests. The only flaw to their argument, is the fact that Abramoff was acting on his own and that his activities regarding Indian casinos had nothing at all to do with the work Greenberg Traurig was doing on behalf of online gambling interests. In other words, there is no solid base for argument to claim that Abramoff was connected with all of Greenberg Traurig’s clients.

In many ways, the attempts made by the GOP to squash the legalization of online gambling are paramount the same tactics used to get the UIGEA passed. Added as a last-minute attachment to a must-pass Port Security bill with provisions to block terrorist funding, the UIGEA was passed into law unawares to many of the politicians who voted for the port security bill.

France’s National Assembly Passes Bill to Regulate Online Betting

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

If there was ever any doubt before whether France would legalize online gambling, or better yet, greatly liberalize and regulate French-facing online casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms – including those owned and operated by foreign companies – consider it washed away at this point in time.

This just in: The French National Assembly has voted in favor of the bill that would stand to legalize the most popular forms of online betting, thus bringing France one giant step closer to following in the footsteps of England and becoming the next world leader to embrace a less protectionist and more tolerant stance toward online gambling.

Euro online casinos are certain to be excited about the bill even though the legislation hasn’t officially “passed” as of yet. The bill first made it through a reading by the Senate in February, and now needs an approval from the French Supreme Court and Constitutional Council. And, of course, there is the green light from the EU, although it’s not like the EU did anything to stop France from anti-monopoly gambling activities before.

Speaking of monopolies, La Francaise Des Jeux (FDJ) – which just so happens to be the second largest lottery operator in the world – and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) – the largest European horseracing monopoly – have both already taken measures to ensure they remain Kings of the Mountain when the gaming floodgates open to foreign betting operators.

Last month, FDJ bought out LVS, which was previously awarded a contract to supply a fixed odds online sports betting feed for FDJ. As for PMU, they have already signed contracts with Paddy Power and Party Gaming, each to provide sports betting and an online poker platform respectively.

PayPal Overblocking Online Transactions Due to Ambiguity of UIGEA

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Many people have wondered why exactly it is that the American Banking Association, the world’s largest credit card companies, and even the Federal Reserve have said all along the supposed US online gambling ban – the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) – would be nigh impossible to enforce, considering all of the carve outs and discrepancies in the bill. I mean a carve out is a carve out, right? Simply identify which forms of online gambling are illegal and block those out.

As nice as this would be, the reality is that the UIGEA does not give transaction codes for specific forms of gambling that should be deemed legal or illegal. Furthermore, every State’s laws are slightly different, so what may be legal in Kentucky (horse racing) could be illegal in a different State, and vice versa. In other words, the UIGEA has placed this huge responsibility – and what some will say is an insurmountable task – on US financial institutions and payment processors.

Case in point is the recent fledgling of affairs at the South Florida Blues Society, which recently send a member-wide email out explaining that internet transactions for the group are being inadvertently blocked because Paypal has mistakenly listed their website as an online gambling website. Now, of course the South Florida Blues Society is a music fan club and has nothing to do with offering online gambling services. But that’s how it goes when you give payment processors the difficult task of filtering out millions of transactions made every day of the year – some related to gambling, some slightly related to gambling, some for legitimate online gambling and some for illegal online gambling. Oy!

The South Florida Blues Society is now even having trouble processing payments made with Visa and Mastercard – both of which have recently been making a wholehearted attempt to comply with the regulations of the UIGEA – the implementation of which has been delayed until June 1, 2010. At less than two months away, getting the UIGEA “successfully” implemented looks even more daunting and impossible than ever.

Online Gambling Bills Expected to Gain Momentum: Taxes to Help Foster Children

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

With health care reform getting the green light in the United States, the online gambling industry is hoping legislators will be giving iGaming regulation a serious consideration as a resource to help fund the costly tab. And not that they haven’t already, for there are two bills currently doing the rounds in Congress and gaining momentum. If you want to get right to the point and do your part in helping online gambling become legal in the U.S., visit the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative (safeandsecureig.org).

Representative Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act aims to overturn the Conservative Christian and Republican-backed Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and lay groundwork to give individual State’s the opportunity to tax and regulate online gambling. In conjunction with Frank’s efforts, Washington State House Representative, Jim McDermott, has been pushing a regulatory licensing and taxation bill (basically, a replacement for the UIGEA) called the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act.

Now, McDermott is updating this companion bill, which was originally introduced in 2009, to include specific provisions calling for the funding of foster care. Perhaps in response to the passing of the healthcare reform bill (now Congress is not too tied up to give thought to less pressing issues), McDermott’s announcement of said changes are timely, to say the least. According to McDermott, who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, the changes to the bill were made in response to State governments being forced to make budget cuts, resulting in cuts for social services like children’s health insurance and foster care.

Well, I personally can hardly think of a better cause than looking after children. And, McDermott’s bill does so twofold: By capturing tens of billions of dollars, thereby generating badly needed tax revenue for foster care programs (that would otherwise be lost revenue) AND by putting an end to underworld corruption in an unregulated market looking to exploit minors. Although anti-gambling proponents would have you to believe otherwise, online gambling regulation would, without a doubt, protect minors from the dangers of gambling addiction by mandating underage gambling preventive measures, not to mention identity and fraud prevention protocols. One need only look to the United Kingdom as a perfect example.

McDermott says he is currently talking with the House Ways and Means Committee to get his bill up for a hearing. When Congressman Frank’s bill is marked up by the House Financial Services Committee – a strong likelihood, although no telling when – McDermott says he will begin pushing his bill to attract more co-sponsors.

iGaming Super Show to Host Online Gambling Regulation Conference Seminars

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Since “Day One”, the online gambling industry has been dealing with the complex issue of regulation. And rightly so, for without regulation, online gambling becomes nothing but a black market of criminal activity and rogue online casinos. There simply is no denying that proper regulation is the key to expanding the gaming industry and keeping online gambling a credible pastime. The only problem is that regionalization tends to make regulation a grey matter, with no two jurisdictions exactly regulating in the same manner.

For example, there is a HUGE difference in regulation standards between the UK and Costa Rica. In fact, Costa Rica does not even regulate – they simply license online casinos. As a player, this is important information to know. And one of the major resources of information for players are the news and review sites such as our very own Online Casino Suite. This is where media publishers, such as iGamingBusiness, serve as an important link between the people behind the online gambling industry and those who make it go round, i.e., the players.

iGamingBusiness, which publishes iGamingBusiness Magazine and iGB Affiliate Magazine, recently announced it will be hosting a series of conference seminars focused on educating the industry about regulatory standards and the diversity therein. While the conferences are primarily aimed at regulators and online casino operators, those of us more closely connected to the industry than the average player will certainly be keeping abreast to the discussions. Furthermore, the seminars make up just a small part of iGB’s inaugural “iGaming Super Show” conference being held May 25-28, 2010 in Prague. In other words, any of the expected 2,000  iGaming Super Show attendees are invited to sit in on the regulatory seminars.

Participating in the discussions will be representatives from high-level regulatory jurisdictions in Europe and elsewhere in the world, representing the nation-specific regulatory factors which online casino operators face in today’s market. The idea is to demonstrate how regulation can successfully be implemented, which in turn, will serve to guide an increasing number of governments coming round to the idea of regulating online gambling. For more information, please visit igamingsupershow.com

Visa to Prove More Difficult in Making Deposits With Online Casinos

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Visa has announced it is now going to follow in the footsteps of MasterCard and begin to implement measures for cracking down against online gambling payments. Not a big shocker considering recent events, the news of Visa’s decision to bow down to mounting pressure from certain lawmakers (cough, cough, UIGEA lover-boy, Jon Kyl of Arizona) will nonetheless put a damper on how U.S. citizens deposit money with legitimate online casinos.

However, notice that I said the word damper – not an end. Despite what will be a sharp rise in declined Visa deposits (yes, some online casinos will very likely continue to try getting payments through), U.S. online gamblers will still have select eWallets, bank wire options and even access to “gift cards” for making deposits, like they do at Go Casino.

So why all the resistance now? Well, ever since enforcement of the UIGEA was permitted to be delayed for another six months, banks and credit card companies have no choice but to start showing they are at least making an attempt to block online gambling payments. Part of the reason why enforcement was delayed was so that banks could have more time setting up the system that would effectively block certain online betting transactions, including online casino and online poker deposits.

So far, it appears that the system is working to a certain extent. However, it is unclear whether the credit card companies can go on manually intercepting credit card payments considering the manpower needed to do so, not to mention the sheer amount of online gambling transactions being made by U.S. residents. Add to this the complicated task of sorting out “legitimate” online gambling deposits (horse racing and fantasy sports), and the already huge burden being placed on MasterCard and Visa gets multiplied by ten.

In the meantime, banks are hoping Barney Frank’s bill to overturn the UIGEA and give individual State’s the right to regulate (which Hawaii is now talking about) continues to gain momentum in the House, while chief politicians in support of online gambling regulation, such as Ron Paul, continue to rise in popularity with conservatives generally opposed to gambling.

Washington Post Reports Frank’s Online Gambling Bill is Making Serious Headway

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Spencer Bachus & Barney Frank

Barney, I'm gonna scratch your bill like I scratch a phat mix on the turntables... (Image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

When the Washington Post publishes an article titled, “Internet Gambling Again in Play”, then that pretty much means internet gambling is again in play. In fact, up until now, online gambling in the U.S. has never been so close to being regulated.You’ll notice I didn’t use the word liberated, although regulation is something of a liberation in this case. The fact is that strong opposition toward online gambling in the past, not to mention it being a relatively young industry, has helped paint a picture that online gambling does not even stand the slightest chance at being regulated in good ‘ol USA.

Typically, the only media outlets even reporting on regulatory updates, were oftentimes the same forces behind lobbying U.S. politicians, or rather, educating lawmakers on why regulation makes more sense than prohibition, or more importantly, how it can be effectively enforced, much unlike the inherently flawed UIGEA which passed as an attachment to a Port Security bill in 2005, and is still waiting to be enforced (the UIGEA that is – not the Port Security bill).

In fact, the UIGEA was supposed to be implement already this year, but due to heavy resistance by the American Banking Association and several politicians urging the U.S. Treasury to do the same, implementation and enforcement was postponed for another six months, thereby giving Massachusetts Representative and House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Congressman Barney Frank, more time to get his bill – the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA) up for a vote.

With major support from former Republican Senator, Alfonse D’Amato (New York), who is head of the massive poker player’s lobby group, Poker Players Alliance (backed by Canada-based Interactive Gaming Council), Frank’s bill is already up for committee markup in a couple of weeks, and is showing promise for the first time since the passing of the UIGEA. Like I said, it’s even got the attention of the Washington Post.

If Frank’s bill does indeed pass, it would, in effect, overturn the UIGEA, establish federal oversight of online betting companies in exchange for five-year operating licenses, implement protection for minors and compulsory addicts, enforce anti-criminal activity measures, while a companion bill introduced by Washington Democrat, Jim McDermott, would impose a 2% tax on deposits, netting an estimated $42 billion in tax revenue over the next decade. Under the bill, online sports betting would remain illegal (which would appease the NFL and Las Vegas casino sportsbooks), while online poker, skill games such as Mahjong, and online casino games would be legal.