Posts Tagged ‘online gambling regulation’

Ireland to Double the Tax Rate on Internet Betting Operators?

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Seemingly following in the footsteps of Great Britain, lawmakers in Ireland are apparently considering reaping more revenue from online gambling activity. And just like the UK, Ireland could be setting itself up for a loss in business if said “reaping” is too much for online betting operators.

As reported by the Irish Examiner, Ireland’s Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan is considering doubling the current tax rate on remote gaming revenue with a 2% tax on all wagers made through Ireland-based and regulated betting sites. Of course, the operative word here is “speculation”. But considering the history of online gambling regulation, if Ireland does indeed impose a 2% winnings tax, it certainly wouldn’t be a big shocker.

When you have the likes of Paddy Power and the Irish Bookmakers’ Association (IBA) voicing concern about such a tax, the reality is that there is indeed some truth behind the speculative claims that Minister Lenihan is, himself, seriously considering the tax spike. IBA’s chairwoman, Sharon Byrne, commented, “We believe that 400 of the 1,200 would shut up overnight. It would kill jobs in the industry”, while a Paddy Power spokesperson said that passing the tax would be “insane”.

Not surprisingly, all of the betting sites and online bookmakers operating out of Ireland, highly oppose the tax. The one exception could possibly be land-based horse racing and dog tracks, which the Irish government has apparently shorted some 30 million Euro’s in government funding.

The idea behind imposing such a spike is that it could generate 60 billion Euro’s in tax revenue per year. Therefore, it would seem the online betting industry would be the most conducive place to turn to for generating some badly needed funds. The gamble, however, is that by increasing the tax rate, many operators will either leave Ireland to do business elsewhere, or simply shut their doors for good. It has been estimated that some 33% of operators will have no choice but the latter.

U.S. Government Regulates Internet Betting With Get out of Jail Cards

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Dethroned U.S. powerhouse sportsbook, Sportingbet has settled with the U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing to pay $33 million in exchange for not facing prosecution charges. Well lookie here Mama! Money can buy justice after all! Yippie!!!!

Well, good for Sportingbet. But you know what? It’s cases like this that cause me to believe the United States is never going to regulate online gambling. Maybe it will trickle in on a State level, i.e., online poker in California and Flordia, but when you look at what the feds are doing to “enforce” the UIGEA, it definitely makes me go hmmmmmm.

Just to fill you in, Sportingbet is a long-running online sportsbook that used to do lots of business with United States citizens. In fact, like most other internet betting sites before the passing of the UIGEA, Sportingbet did the bulk of its business with Sportingbet. However, that came to a screaching hault when some of Sportingbet’s top brass were detained after stepping foot on U.S. soil.

In actuality, this was before the passing of the UIGEA, which goes to show that nothing has really changed other than a lot more reputable online casinos dropping out of the U.S. market, only to have their stead filled by rogue operators in the business of cheating players, or at least not paying out when times get rough – if you catch my drift. 🙂

What’s most interesting is the fact that the (former) charges looming over Sportingbet applied to before the passing of the UIGEA (before 2006). Apparently this all falls under the Wire Act (passed in the late sixties, I believe), which in itself, is said to be a very grey piece of legislation in regards to online gambling.

If you really stop to think about it, the federal government has been making a killing with cases like this. Not too long ago, Party Gaming agreed to dish out a whopping $105 million for uncollected gambling taxes. But wait, online gambling is illegal in the U.S. There is no tax. And why should there be with seizures like this. At this rate, the U.S. government stands to reap way more than they would letting State governments tax gaming revenue.

Then again, perhaps this is all just a precursor to regulation in the States. Says the feds: Let’s get all the money we can on “illegal” activity from the past, THEN we will regulate. It’s their way of admitting they should have been taxing gaming revenues all along, in a way. If they were just to make it illegal right now, all the past stuff could potentially become null and void. Okay, no I’m confused. Just regulate for Christ’s sake!

Washington State Supreme Court Upholds Legislation to Ban Internet Betting

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

It was a long shot – some would even say pointless. Yet, the fact that Washington State attorney, Lee Rousso, was able to get a Washington Supreme Court to rule on whether or not a relatively recent imposed ban against online poker is unconstitutional, goes to show that a fight is on…and it’s far from over.

Rousso’s got some balls, if you ask me. An avid online poker player himself, Rousso has been pursuing the case for roughly three years to this point. Unhindered by the court’s ruling that the 2006 legislature enacted to ban online gambling did not overeach public policy, nor violate the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution, Rousso says he will now appeal the decision on a federal level with the U.S. Supreme Court. And he wants the online betting community to help him fight the ban.

Rousso had the following to say: “Unfortunately, the court has upheld an unpopular prohibition,” Rousso said in a statement. “Poker players in this state need to make their voices heard. Now more than ever we need to rally together to fight this outrageous law. I hope the poker community will stand with me as I appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The upside to all this is that Justice Richard B Sanders said in his ruling that the “evidence is not conclusive” and that a decision to uphold the ban should not be taken as an endorsement of the legislation itself, but rather, as an endorsement of the State Legislature’s ability to do so. In other words, there are pros and cons for both regulation and prohibition, and nobody really knows whether one will prove more effectice than the other. Well, at least the people in charge, I mean.

iGaming News Reports on the Return of Curacao as a Formidable Regulatory Jurisdiction

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

curacao_egamingIf you work in the online gaming industry, there’s a chance you have a subscription to iGaming News. If not, what are you waiting for? Anyhow, if you’re totally cool like me (I’m talking Lady Gaga coolness here) and already have a subscription 🙂 then you will have noticed the latest issue has a good chunk of information about Curacao.

For all the online bettors reading this, Curacao probably rings a bell. And no, I’m not talking about it’s appeal as a beautiful place to vacation at (FYI, Curacao is a Dutch Caribbean island, and consequently, a beautiful place to vacation at). But Curacao is also a key player in the “international” online gambling industry.

Being one of the first jurisdictions to regulate online gambling (1993), Curacao has steadily developed into one of the most sought after jurisdictions for online casino operators looking to set up shop while offering some degree of regulatory credibility to their players. These days, as pointed out in iGaming News, Curacao is being viewed as a top contender for betting site operators looking for more reasonable licensing costs and tax solutions (without being a tax haven). Curacao does not impose separate taxes on gaming revenue, while only subjecting an operators net revenue to a 2% tax rate.

But it hasn’t always been that way. Being a jurisdiction where many operators chiefly do business with U.S. players (much like Antigua & Barbuda), the passing of the US online gambling ban, aka UIGEA, not to mention being left off the UK Gambling Commission’s white-list, sort of put a dambper on Curacao’s rise as an internationally recognized regulatory jurisdiction, albeit a handful of popular U.S. facing online casino operators have been holding up here since the beginning.

However, now that the UK’s bilateral regulatory policies, which permitted white-listed operators to do business with UK citizens without requiring them to hold a UK license, are not being embraced in other EU countries like France (where a National regulatory policy is serving to protect State-run interests), Curacao is being seen in a new light. With the possibility that operators will likely need to hold multiple licenses in order to do business in EU countries with non-bilateral regulation, Curacao could very well become the “go to” destination for operators looking to expand.

So, if you’re a player and have ever wondered why so many online casinos are setting up shop in Curacao, that’s why. It’s not because there is no regulation (which is currently the case in Costa Rica, although that could very well change in the near future). Curacao’s “State Ordinance concerning the exploitation of hazard games on the international market by means of service lines” aka, P.B. 1993 no. 63 has you covered in that area (Contact the Netherlands Department of Justice and or www.curacao-egaming.com if you want more info).

Essentially, it all comes down to affordability, while maintaining credibility. In a market where national regulation is fueling State-run monopolies and overrunning a more internationally friendly regulatory regime, Curacao’s E-zone co-location services (which permits online casinos to operate in other regulated markets – pending, of course, on the laws of said regulated markets) is looking very promising. With the chances of a UK white-listing very likely, as well as e-Commerce Parks approval to host online gaming operators licensed by the Alderney Gaming Commission (which is already white-listed in the UK), as iGaming News points out, “The Return of Curacao” is imminent.

Looking for a Curacao licensed and regulated online casino to wager with. OCS highly recommends Go Casino, Aladdin’s Gold and Online Vegas.

Atlantis Internet Group Signs With Cake to Power Tribal Online Poker

Monday, September 13th, 2010

AtlantisInternetGroup2In what could be a sign of things to come for online casino gambling in the United States, Las Vegas-based Atlantis Internet Group has signed an agreement with the popular Cake Poker Network (powering U.S. favorite, Doyle’s Room), to create a wide area online poker network for players residing in regulated tribal casino State’s.

While this may seem, at first, a bold and dangerous move in light of the UIGEA – albeit an ineffective online gambling ban – Atlantis Internet Group Chief Executive, Donald L. Bailey, says the agreement will give the Tribal Gaming Network (a patent pending intratribal/intrastate online casino network) an “immediate and legal solution” for tribes seeking to offer internet betting.

That’s because the UIGEA has exemptions for Indian Casinos, intertribal internet gaming, as well as State’s with intrastate online gambling laws. Personally, that’s news to me – I thought the only carveouts in the UIGEA were for horseracing, lotto and fantasy sports betting.

TribalGamingNetworkBut according to the National Indian Gaming Commission, which oversees tribal casino regulations in the State’s, the Tribal Gaming Network is 100% legit. It’s also 100% loaded. Synced with over ten tribal casinos and potentially allowing players in thirty State’s to play online casino games, the Tribal Gaming Network has the potential of offering one of the largest wide area progressive jackpot networks on the Web.

For now, Atlantis Internet Group has it’s sights on online poker, which currently holds the greatest potential of becoming regulated in State’s where tribal casino gambling is legal. California leads the way with an amended poker bill scheduled for legislative action before the year is out, while both New Jersey & Florida are considering similar options.

The Cake Network is certainly a great choice for launching an online poker network. With thousands of players online at any given moment and an open door to the U.S. online poker market, Cake will give the Tribal Gaming Network instant liquidity, not to mention credibility, while a giant surpluss of players will only serve to strenghten Cake in return.

South Africa Bans Online Gambling With High Court Ruling

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

South Africa, you disappoint me. Beautiful plains of South Africa, oh how you disappoint me! Home of the World Cup, stage to end apartheid, oh how deeply you disappoint me!

In case you haven’t heard already, South Africa (which apparently looked as if it would become a promising jurisdiction to regulate online gambling) has done a complete turnaround, swinging 180 degrees in its 2007 policy toward internet betting by making it an illegal activity!

As per a high court judgment given by Judge NB Tuchten on Friday, August 20th, the law basically states that anybody who takes part in online gambling activities of any kind is guilty of breaking the law and will be prosecuted.

Not only does this apply to online casino operators and payment processors, the ruling specifically holds internet service providers and the bettors themselves responsible. And to make matters worse, the Gauteng Gambling Board (land-based casino interests…who else, right?) is shouting from the rooftops that it will legally pursue any individuals or companies attempting to bypass the law.

Granted, I don’t expect there to be any prosecutions against your average online bettors (at least, for the time being). High rollers may be another matter. However, just as it is in the United States, enforcement will likely only have enough resources to go after the operators themselves, i.e., offshore online casinos, poker rooms, sportsbooks and anybody else knowingly taking bets from South African citizens.

While I am very disappointed to hear this news (as is the online gambling community at large and no doubt  many South Africans), it seems as if this story is far from over. If one Judge’s ruling can effectively make a popular activity illegal, there need only to be another ruling to overturn the former. Just like gay marriage was made legal, illegal and legal again in the State of California, online gambling regulation will eventually happen in the United States, and for that matter, South Africa once more.

American Gaming Association Reveals Just How Hot its Casino Members are for Online Gambling Regulation

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

All things said and done, the American Gaming Association (AGA) is in favor of legalizing online casino gambling in the United States. The irony is (other than the fact that the AGA used to be dead set against regulating online gambling) that the AGA isn’t necessarily in favor of individual States being “united” in exercising their right to regulating internet betting. In other words, the AGA is a proponent of giving individual States’ the choice to offer regulation, or rather, that such a right to decide is, in fact, available.

Now, whether or not the AGA is in support of every single State in the Union legalizing online gambling, isn’t necessarily clear since they really haven’t come out of the closet to announce their position to the world, albeit I can pretty much guarantee AGA members, which include the likes of Harrah’s, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Mirage, Boyd Gaming, Bally Technologies and International Game Technology, are licking their chops to get a footing in as many State’s as possible.

Sooooooo, while the online casino software “institution”, Cryptologic, has reported a loss of $12 million in the second quarter of 2010, the American Gaming Association has revealed it has spent over $360,000 lobbying U.S. government officials in a bid to get online gambling regulation legislation (say that 10 times real fast, I dare you), passed into law, and consequently, the infamous Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) overturned and placed alongside prohibition as the stupidest bills ever placed into law. This figure is in addition to the $430,000 spent in the first quarter!

Obviously, the AGA’s money is the money of the aforementioned member companies. And there’s no denying that Harrah’s Entertainment wants a large piece of the pie. In fact, the U.S. based casino gambling giant already has an online casino in the works and is currently testing out the waters in the regulated European online gambling scene. IGT is already benefiting via the company’s software developer, Wager Works, which supplies the popular UK Casino, Virgin Games.

So yes, there is plenty of firsthand proof that there is plenty of money to be made off of the legalization of online gambling, no matter where in the world. And everybody knows the American gambling scene supplies the bulk of online gambling activity (even with the UIGEA in effect). So long as regulatory laws are not passed that foster competitive advantages or disadvantages between commercial casinos, Native American casinos, State lotteries and parimutuel betting operations, the AGA says, regulate, regulate, regulate!

Atlantic City Casino Operators Apparently in Talks With Online Gaming Software Devlopers

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Atlantic City must be hurting. I mean – come on – there’s no denying all of Atlantic City has been hurting for a long time now. Err, I suppose ever since the day casinos first opened on the boardwalk.

But really, Atlantic City had it’s heyday, and the idea now is to get back to that place before Playboy Casino was shut down and Donald Trump got the idea that he could rule AC with just a hotel and a bad hair piece (it never gets old!). Considering how the casinos have been faring, you can’t really blame him, can you?

Anyhow, now that there is a glimmer of hope for online gambling regulation in the States, land-based casino operators in Atlantic City (not to mention Las Vegas) are looking into the prospects of running a counterpart online casino. Business is not great, and quite frankly, the World Wide Web is stealing billions of dollars from brick ‘n mortar casinos.

You would have thought online casino gambling was legalized several years back, would you not? Oh but wait – the technology itself came about during the Bush administration, and instead of giving it a proper study, Republican conservatives and the religious right had their say in getting online gambling (well, at least some forms) banned.

Never mind the fact that England has been successfully regulating and taxing internet betting for over five years – without rises in problem and underage gambling mind you. But don’t get me started. Believe me, I can go on about this not only until the fat lady sings but also when the cows come home.

Anyhow, back to Atlantic City.

The President of the New Jersey Casino Association, Mark Juliano, has alluded that New Jersey casino operators are indeed working with software providers in preparation of legalized online gambling. Okay, scratch that. Juliano didn’t allude (as reported elsewhere), he outright said it. He even said the Association thinks it is “inevitable” that legislation will pass “at some point”.

And not that this is a big surprise, really. Harrah’s was adamantly opposed to regulating online gambling when the idea first presented itself. It took several years of losing revenue and a budding realization that regulation really does work for Harrah’s to turn on a dime and direct their efforts toward getting online gambling legalized.

So yes, when online gambling is finally legalized in the U.S. a virtual Atlantic City is likely to show up very soon thereafter. Whether or not the online gaming package will be any good (AC casino operators are years behind the game), is anybody’s guess.

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.

In Light of a Bill to Regulate Online Gambling, Another Internet Bookie Goes Down

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

In light of the positive developments regarding the Internet Gaming Regulation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act (HR 2267, otherwise known simply as IGREA), which after successfully passing through the U.S. House of Representatives is to go under the knife in the Senate (I have an in-dept article about this in the works), it’s cases like the one below that reiterate why online gambling needs to be regulated in the United States.

Meet James L. Dicapo – a fifty-seven year old “businessman” from the Heart of America’s West, err, Kansas. Dicapo, whom I’m assuming is Italian, recently pleaded guilty to operating an online gambling business. Bringing in more than $3.6 million spanning approximately three years (2006-2009), this was no skimpy business either. Basically, it was your standard bookmaker getup offering phone lines for, well, betting one’s lines on a range of sports events.

These days, phone-in bookies like this are also often inclined to go the way of the Web, if you will. Sports betting online is big business, and the internet is simply helping it become bigger. But rather broadcast their services for all to see, this operation consisted of handing out toll-free digits and a website to sign up. Dicapo and three other men (also charged in the investigation) would simply handle the money, and from what I can understand, actually do the rounds and deal with customers face to face.

Dicapo has attested that the customers for whom he specifically dealt with wagered approximately $1.2 million between 2006-2009. All of this money would then be routed to an offshore business in Costa Rica (where many a sports betting business is set up, I might add). The actual wagers would go through here, and all winning bets would be paid out accordingly.

On that note, while everything Dicapo was doing was deemed illegal, this does not necessarily mean there was shady business taking place internally. In other words, Dicapo and his operation was, for all intensive purposes, a legitimate sports betting service with a base of satisfied customers. I suppose you could say satisfied “clients”, if DiCapo was dealing with a small handful of whales. That hasn’t yet been determined yet, but I’m sure it will be brought to light if that’s indeed what happened.

In relation to what’s going on with the aforementioned IGREA, you might wonder if cases like this will continue happening in the U.S. Well, to make a long story short, the answer is yes. One small provision in the IGREA is that sports betting will not be included with online poker, bingo and online casino games in having the possibility to be regulated on a State level. Online sports betting simply is illegal and will remain illegal even if the IGREA is passed into law.

But that won’t stop operations like Dicapo’s from sprouting up, many of which may not even be caught. The fact of the matter – and this is one reason why sports betting was left out of the bill – is that most sports fans love to wager. And for the millions of these folks who do not have the luxury of making trips to Vegas every time they want to make a wager, the telephone and online bookies serve as a very convenient option for placing the bets on one’s behalf