Posts Tagged ‘online gambling laws’

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.

U.S. Internet Gambling Regulation & Tax Enforcement Act: The Latest Revisions

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

God Bless You Jim McDermott...You're a Damn Good Man and Politician

God Bless You Jim McDermott...You're a Damn Good Man and Politician

On the heels of a US House Committee on Ways and Means hearing this morning regarding the feasibilities of taxing online gambling in the States, it seems only fitting to shed some light on the legislation that stands the greatest chance of being passed with this end in mind.

Called the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act, this bill currently sits as a companion bill to the more widely known IGREA bill (Internet Gambling Regulation and Consumer Protection Enforcement Act), penned and touted by House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

The taxation companion bill’s author, Democratic Representative, Jim McDermott of Washington State, has been steadily working hard on this piece of legislation, and announced just this year he would be reintroducing the bill with several revisions, the least of which includes tax measures to encourage online gambling operators to operate on a legal basis – “legal”, meaning according to standards imposed by reg-
ulatory laws yet to be voted on by the U.S. Congress.

Obviously, that is the least of concern for anyone who is in support of regulating online gambling. First and foremost, the IGREA must be passed in order to, in effect, overturn the vaguely worded Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act – the bill that goes into effect on June 1, 2010 and which seeks to ban most forms of online gambling, including online casinos.

McDermott’s most noteworthy revisions to his bill include a revenue incentive measure for gambling-friendly State government’s and Native American tribes. This would impart a 6% rev share on all deposits that flow through them, likely operating in similar effect to Kahnawake Gaming Commission (that is, of course, if the Kahnawake Gaming Commission actually answered to federal authorities). Another recently introduced provision includes to revenue set-asides, and would designate 25% of said revenue to directly help foster care children and 0.5% toward historic preservation of the arts.

When all is said and done, the one thing that online gambling regulation in the U.S. has going for it right now is a massive federal deficit and several State’s on the verge of bankruptcy. This is precisely where taxation policy can influence the prospects of regulating online gambling by means of generating an estimated $41 billion for the federal government in ten years time. The ball is now in the court of the House Committee on Ways and Means, where pro online gambling legislation could soon be ready for markup.

Hearing to be Held in House Committee Regarding Taxation of Online Gambling

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Is regulating online gambling in the U.S. worth the tax revenue?

Is regulating online gambling in the U.S. worth the tax revenue?

In just two days, the United States House Committee on Ways and Means will be reviewing tax proposals to tax online gambling according to regulatory legislation yet to be passed into law. In fact, current legislative proposals have quite a long way to go before even the possibility of being passed into law becomes….well…a possibility. With the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) enforcement deadline fast approaching (June 1st), which was already postponed by nearly six months in December 2009, a more serious effort is now being taken to consider the prospects of regulating online gambling – most particularly, online casinos and poker rooms.

There is no denying the fact that legalizing online gambling would generate hefty amounts of tax revenue. However, just how much revenue is the question. And the better question is just how much at the cost of what? Being that the House Committee on Ways and Means has jurisdiction over taxation matters, the former question will be more closely examined than the latter at the Hearing on Tax Proposals Related to Legislation to Legalize Internet Gambling on Wednesday at 9:30 am.

Specifically, the Committee says it will be discussing revenue and tax figures resulting in the legalization of online gambling in the United States. Tax legislation has already been drawn up, as has a co-bill that would essentially overturn the UIGEA and give individual State governments the right to regulate on their accord. Overreaching regulatory legislation will trickle down from a Federal level, as will tax revenue between the Federal and State governments. Taking all of this into account, including the counter effects of the UIGEA and electronic eCommerce research undertaken by the Department of Treasury, will be the task at hand for the Committee.

The UK government, which passed legislation to regulate most forms of online gambling back in 2005-2006, could serve as a model and gauge for predicting potential tax revenue, although it isn’t known if the Committee plans to take an extensive look at the UK Gambling Act, let alone discuss it during deliberations.

What is most promising is that several Committee members have expressed sincere interest and even adamant hope in overturning the UIGEA and passing strict legislation that would effectively regulate online poker and online casinos, including Nevada Representative, Shelley Berkley.

Anyone interested in supporting the cause further can do so by visiting www.waysandmeans.house.gov and participate in the discussions by means of submitting a written record. In order to do so, send an email to wmsubmissions@mail.house.gov and include your name, organization, address, phone number, contact email address, and title of the hearing (Hearing on Tax Proposals Related to Legislation to Legalize Internet Gambling) in the body of the email. Attach your submission as a Word document. If all required information is provided, the statement may be included in the Table of Contents and printed in the hearing record.

Introducing Australia’s Anti-Online Gambling Senator – Nick Xenophon

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Is that a Mobile Casino in Your Pocket Sonny Boy?

Is that a Mobile Casino in Your Pocket Sonny Boy?

Australia certainly provides a demand for online gambling. And although the laws Down Under are some of the strictest in the world, let’s just say that Australian’s still know how to get their online gambling fix. As is to be expected, some publicly elected officials don’t want this to be (for one reason or another), and have taken great effort to ban all forms of online wagering.

Senator Nick Xenaphon is precisely one of these publicly elected officials. It’s kind of interesting his last name is one letter short of the word “phone”, because Nick Xenophon doesn’t want you to gamble from your phone. Apparently, he was ridiculed as a child, taunted on the playground by bully’s proclaiming, “Nick Xenophone calls his mommy!”.

Having pretty much centered his 1997 election platform around banning gambling (don’t ask me how he was voted into office), Xenophon is now making motions to ban all forms of remote wagering, which he thinks (or so he says) encourages underage gambling. Concerned about the flood of applications that can now be used on smart phones, like the iPhone, Blackberry and Google Android, Xenephon is speaking out against mobile online casinos in particular, albeit if he had his way, all forms of remote wagering would get the ax.

There is no denying the rise in popularity of mobile casino gaming; However, this is primarily due to a recent spike in development technologies that now allow legally aged online gamblers to safely and securely log into their online casino accounts via mobile phones.

And no, mobile online casinos are not “apps” that can be quickly downloaded from iTunes or elsewhere on the internet by anyone under eighteen years of age. In order to gamble for real money on a cell phone, players must first open an account (which is checked for age and fraud verification, mind you) and then request the mobile software download package to be sent to their phone via an SMS text message. Only then can the player log into the online casino from their mobile phone and begin wagering with real money.

Perhaps if Senator Xenaphon actually took the time to engage due diligence research about online gambling technology, he wouldn’t be so quick to label mobile online gambling as a corruptor of the youth. But then again, perhaps Senator Xenaphon doesn’t care to know the truth, being so blinded by the agenda he promised he would keep many years ago.

iGaming Business Events: GIGSE Returns; iGaming Super Show Largest Ever

Monday, May 3rd, 2010
iGaming Business

Two Huge iGaming Business Conferences in May!

iGaming Business is a leader in providing news, event conferences, research and marketplace special reports specifically pertaining to the online gambling industry. Instrumental in helping spread the reach of affiliates, vendors and operators, iGaming Business conference events take place throughout the year, and only seem to be growing larger and more frequent.

Generally speaking, iGaming Business hosts two types of events – large expos and special events for niche markets within the online gambling industry. For the month of May, 2010, iGaming Business (iGB) is organizing and helping host four different conferences, two of which are classified as expo events.

The Global iGaming Summit & Expo GIGSE, is the first of the expo events to take place in May (Full day pre-conference workshops May 11th; Main event on May 12-13th), and as usual, will go down in Montreal. This was actually my first affiliate conference ever (in 2001, I believe), and was a major success in my book! Following a two-year hiatus (since the passing of the UIGEA), the ninth annual GIGSE will focus on the U.S. online gambling market, and more specifically, why it is important for industry professionals (including affiliates) to prepare for legalization of online gambling in the States.

This will also be a similar focus for the second of iGB’s large expo conferences in May – the iGaming Super Show, albeit on more of a global scale. Covering much more than just regulatory speculation in the U.S, the iGaming Super Show is actually pegged to be iGB’s largest conference to date. In other words, expect a large turnout of affiliates and vendors (over 2,500), and a comprehensive selection of conference events covering everything from regulation to affiliate marketing.

According to iGB, the iGaming Super Show will be two-tracked. The first track will be dedicated to the global regulatory and legal landscape (special emphasis on regulating online poker in the U.S.), best practice operations and marketing standards for online casinos and poker rooms (all manner of internet betting sites, for that matter). Also covered in the first track is a phenomenon that certainly needs to be addressed – the convergence between the land-based and online gambling industries.

As for the second track of conference events at the iGaming Super Show in Prague later this month, this will be geared more toward affiliates. Topics covered will include SEO and affiliate marketing in general. Of course, some of the most productive events for affiliates – not to mention the most liked – are those involving networking. Needless to say, these networking events are always fueled by an open bar, which most affiliates agree goes hand-in-hand with more a more active and successful networking session 🙂

If you are an internet marketing affiliate and have never attended an iGaming Business conference, the iGaming Super Show makes for a great opportunity to meet potential business colleagues, learn a thing or two about online casino affiliate marketing and the industry as a whole, and most importantly, do business! Not only will the iGaming Super Show be the largest of iGB’s conferences to date, it’s free to attend, and everything is really, really cheap in Prague. Oh, and they have great beer as well! Now, could you ask for anything more?

American Banking Association Openly Criticizes U.S. Online Gambling Ban

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

As the day looms closer in which the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), aka, the U.S. online gambling ban, is mandated for enforcement, U.S. financial institutions are expressing – once again – their displeasure with the highly flawed and otherwise unenforceable law.

Why all the groaning from private banks and not the Federal Treasury? You would think it’s because of a loss in revenue, would you not? However, while billions of dollars do indeed stand to be lost (for both private companies and the federal government), the resistance being expressed by the financial industry has more to do with the actual nature of the UIGEA itself.

Placing all of the enforcement responsibility, i.e., blocking online gambling transactions, on the financial industry, the UIGEA is essentially imposing an impossible task, while creating new costs that are only going to spill over onto tax payers. In other words, not only will the UIGEA be impossible to enforce – meaning online gambling will continue in the US – the federal government will lose badly needed tax revenue that would have come from regulation, while imposing more costs on tax payers and financial institutions, that will consequently roll over on U.S. consumers.

Sure, it sounds like a good argument, but where’s the proof? Well, according to none other than Steve Kenneally – the VP of the American Bankers Association – which represents over 90% of the financial institutions doing business in America, the UIGEA is simply the wrong answer.

Keneally opines that not only is it nigh impossible to identify which online gambling transactions are legal or illegal (the UIGEA is full of carve-outs for fantasy sports and horse racing), let alone that a transaction can be detected as an online wager period, there will indeed be a considerable amount of new costs that will inevitably carry over on consumers.

Online Gambling Entrepreneur, Daniel Tzvetkoff, Gets Bail; Awaits Trial in New York

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Contrary to the predictions of his own lawyer and against the wishes of U.S. prosecutors, Daniel Tzvetkoff, the 27-year old Australian entrepreneur who was arrested in Las Vegas on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal online gambling activities (all of which I pretty much thought was illegal in the U.S. anyhow), has posted bail on account of his father, Kim Tzvetkoff, who travelled from Brisbane, Australia to appear before a Judge and put his $1.17 million house up for bond.

Appearing before US Federal Court Judge Peggy Leen, Kim Tzvetkoff said he understood the implications of his son not showing up for his court appearance, i.e, losing his house. He also said he would carry out the Judge’s orders and drive his son from Las Vegas to New York, where Daniel Tzvetkoff will wear a GPS tracking bracelet and abide by a curfew as he waits for his trial (date yet to be determined).

While granting bail to a U.S. citizen in the same circumstance would be a no-brainer according to Judge Leen, she cautioned that Tvetkoff’s release into his father’s custody could be delayed for several days as an immigration detention order is still being imposed and would have to be fought by Tzvetkoff’s lawyers. In the meantime, Tzvetkoff remains in custody at the Las Vegas Detention Center, which to Tzvetkoff’s good fortune, is where white collar criminals are held – separate from State criminals being held on charges of robbery, drugs, rape and the like.

Although prosecutors argued in the bail hearing that Tzvetkoff could serve at least 24 years in prison for his crimes and would likely flee to anywhere in the world and set up online businesses once again, Tzvetkoff’s defense attorney, Robert Goldstein, argued that his client had no criminal record, was just a kid who started his first internet business inside the basement of his parent’s home, and furthermore, that Tzvetkoff had legitimate concerns for the health of his seven-month pregnant wife, who will evidently be staying with Tzvetkoff in New York as he awaits his trial.

Judge Leen was obviously won over by the latter, granting Daniel Tzvetkoff a little more freedom before it is likely taken away at the outset of his trial. However, contrary to some earlier reports that Tzvetkoff could face up to seventy-five years in prison, considering the fact that illegal gambling is considered a misdemeanor in the State of New York, Daniel Tzvetkoff is more likely to face 10-16 months in prison – still a long way off from the days of unbridled luxury living, sports cars, yachts and fancy mansions.

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.

USA Online Gambling Regulatory Update: Frank’s Bills Delayed; Amendments in Mass

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Currently, there are several areas in the U.S. online gambling legislative landscape that are experiencing a major upheaval. One, of course, is the overall federal stance toward online gambling as a whole in the States. The other resides on a State level, which at this time, is primarily being soaked up by Kentucky and Massachusetts. In other words, no other two States are making as many headlines in regards to online gambling legislation.

Not that I’m sick of talking about Kentucky (okay, maybe I am), it’s just that what is happening in Massachusetts is more about legislation than the legal battle currently taking place in Kentucky. As reported earlier last week here at OCS, Massachusetts is currently seeking to expand gambling. However, certain provisions slipped into the legislation would call for an outright ban of online gambling – going so far to impose a prison sentence on those who participate in online gambling.

The latest word on the street in Massachusetts is that several alternative proposals have been given to amend the legislation, including several dealing specifically with online poker. These include a provision introduced by House Representative, Robert Nyman, to provide an exception within the online gambling ban to games of skill, including online poker. Other proposals seek to ban all forms of online gambling other than online poker.

So yes, the online poker industry definitely has their fingers in this one, folks. This is no surprise considering how big online poker has become in the US over the last ten years, not to mention the lobbying power of groups like the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). Just how the final bill turns out in Massachusetts is anybody’s guess, although proponents of the original bill are already claiming victory. Their belief is that the bill will easily pass the House, and will, perhaps, see some amendments in the Senate.

As for the federal debate on online gambling, it looks like Barney Frank’s bills to overturn the UIGEA and provide regulatory guidelines is being postponed for a hearing to take place in the House Financial Services Committee. By no means up for a markup (just yet), the two bills will be scheduled for a hearing in due time as the Committee tends to previously scheduled matters.

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.