Posts Tagged ‘online gambling regulation’

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?

The Future of Online Casino Gambling in the United States

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Gambling. Just the word alone brings with it a lot of baggage. A controversial activity – to say the least – what makes gambling different than most other heated issues (like abortion) is the fact that just about everybody gambles, whereas not every woman has or is going to get an abortion.

Just think about it. How many people do you know with a retirement plan or IRA? How many people do you know who own a house? How many people do you know who invest in real estate, the stock market, or even a new business opportunity? Just about everyone you know, including yourself, is – directly or indirectly – participating in one form of gambling or another. The only difference between “everyday” investing and casino gambling is that the latter at least provides a form of entertainment and diversion.

Granted, not every form of gambling has the same degree of volatility, just as every casino game has it’s own volatility level. However, some of the most common forms of investing in today’s financial market are as unpredictable as the most volatile casino games. We have always been told that when you buy property and/or a house, it’s value is pretty much guaranteed to go up. Could you have every predicted the crash in the housing market, which contrary to all “safe” investment practices, have actually lost value?

I could have never imagined that when my father-in-law had to take a new job and move from Florida to Delaware that his beautiful home would not be able to sell, and that his only option would be to settle for a buyout from his company, which was way below what he originally purchased the house for. In effect, it was an unlucky wager. He couldn’t hold out any longer, just like you can’t always hold out as long as you would like to at the Blackjack table. Sometimes you have to take your losses before it’s all gone.

So, where am I going with all this (besides the obvious fact that I’m trying to prove that casino gambling is no different than most other things we do with our money)? Well, in particular, I am trying to bring some attention toward the fight to ban online gambling in the United States. I mean, really, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is one of the most hypocritical laws ever to be passed. Congressman Barney Frank said himself, “the UIGEA is the stupidest law ever passed”, which is actually more apt, considering all the benefits that would come from regulating online gabling and the harm that will come by making it illegal and attempting to enforce an impossibility.

I certainly understand the concern about underage gambling and wanting to protect minors, which truly isn’t the foremost concern of politicians who support an online gambling ban (Believe me, the politicians who have spearheaded the UIGEA, have great backing by the land-based gambling industry, which predominantly considers online gambling a threat to its own welfare. Just do a search on the foremost proponent of the UIGEA – Senator Jon Kyl – and you will find an assortment of kick-backs from the brick ‘n mortar gambling and tobacco/alcohol industries).

However, banning online gambling will not stop minors from gambling at online casinos. Online casinos, especially those being run by inscrutable crooks, will find a way – just as they do to this day – to skirt around financial roadblocks and not only take money from minors, but cheat them out of their money. Even in today’s unregulated online gambling landscape, adult U.S. citizens are frequent victims of fraud and unfair odds. Of course, there are some reputable US online casinos doing business and holding offshore regulatory credentials. However, there are also online casinos being run my the Israeli mafia and being promoted to U.S. citizens.

Now, if the U.S. government would follow suit to Great Britain, where all forms of internet betting, including online casino gambling, poker and sports betting, are being effectively regulated – meaning that at a minimum fair odds are being ensured, and that underage/problem gambling is being effectively prevented and treated – the criminals would essentially be put out of business. It’s exactly the same thing that happened with prohibition, and unless the U.S. government does not wake up and take address of its own hypocrisy, billions of dollars will be wasted, and all the while U.S. citizens – many of whom will be taken advantage of – will continue gambling online.

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.

Massachusets Congressman Seeks to Criminalize Gambling at Online Casinos

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Just when you thought there couldn’t be more drama and underhanded politics in the U.S. online gambling scene, Massachusetts steps up to the plate once again. Reminiscent of the betrayal of Senator Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, Massachusetts citizens could soon find themselves in a position of making another doe-doe brain political decision.

Actually, the decision would be more in the hands of Massachusetts elected officials. Unlike the election of Ted Kennedy’s replacement, the latest issue at hand involves the passing of a newly released bill calling for the illegalization of online casino gambling. What makes the issue even “hotter”, so to speak, is the fact that Speaker Robert DeLeo is attempting to fast track the bill, in effect, glossing over more controversial terms related to online gambling.

The bill primarily seeks to license two brick ‘n mortar casinos and give horseracing tracks the right to offer casino-style slot machines. However, on page 123 of the bill, there is a small, little provision calling for the imprisonment (up to two years) and/or a $25,000 fine for anyone who “knowingly transmits or receives a wager of any type by any telecommunication device, including cellular phone, internet….”.

So yes, Congressman Robert DeLeo is attempting to not only make it illegal to gamble at online casinos, he is attempting to make it possible to punish those that choose to gamble online rather than wager at the land-based casinos he is working on behalf of. Really folks, this is hypocrisy and protectionism at its finest.

The good news is that the bill doesn’t necessarily stand a great chance at being passed. Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, unsuccessfully attempted to create three new brick ‘n mortar casinos while outlawing online gambling just a couple of years ago. Now, Patrick thinks that DeLeo’s bill should receive a proper public hearing and debate, while DeLeo is of the mindset that the bill should go forward without a vote.

New Hampshire Governor Open to the Prospect of Regulating Online Casinos

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Among the U.S. States whom would be interested in legalizing and taxing online gambling if the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was overturned and regulatory mandates were passed, i.e, Senator Jim McDermott and Barney Frank’s companion bills – the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act and the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act – it’s a good bet to add New Hampshire to the list.

Governor John Lynch, who actually opposes brick ‘n mortar casino gambling and slot machines, is saying he may very well support legislation that would regulate and tax online gambling. In fact, Governor Lynch will be unveiling a plan next week to help New Hampshire close a fast-growing budget deficit during trying economic times. Of the many options in this plan, one of them is online gambling.

Lynch’s critics, or rather, those who oppose online gambling for one reason or another, have already spoken out against the prospects of regulating online gambling. On of these critics is Senator Bob Clegg, who just so happens to be a lobbyist for a golf club seeking to build a casino resort in the city of Hudson. According to Senator Clegg, “The governor is worried about proliferation of gaming, but it sounds like he’s going to make every computer terminal in every home and every BlackBerry — including those BlackBerrys held by kids in high school — a gambling facility.”

What Senator Clegg doesn’t understand however, is that when online gambling is properly regulated – as it is in the United Kingdom – minors are blocked from opening accounts at online casinos. Strict identity checks and fraud prevention protocols also prevent illegal credit card use and money laundering. And if State’s were given individual say in regulating online casinos, the minimum age could be raised from the generally accepted eighteen year benchmark, which needless to say, most land-based casinos operate by.

Of course, at this stage, Governor Lynch’s idea to regulate online gambling is nothing more than wishful thinking. If the UIGEA is permitted to come into law in June later this year, rather than being overturned, it will be black-market, underground business as usual.