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Online Casino News - March, 2008

US Online Gambling Lobbyist Efforts Impressive in 2007

by Edward Rogers, News Staff Writer

March 3, 2008

Now that lobbying firms have disclosed the financial particulars of their efforts in 2007 (as mandated by U.S. law), some surprising findings regarding the level of support for online gambling regulation in the U.S. have surfaced in the eye of the public. As reported by the Cape Cod Media Group, over twenty different organizations contributed large sums of money with a direct aim of overturning the UIGEA and making some leeway in regulating the activities of online casinos and betting sites catering to U.S. citizens.

The report showed that just during the first half of 2007, over $2.65 million was spent on lobbying efforts. A major portion of this came through the American Gaming Association, which serves as a trade body for land-based casinos in the U.S. No doubt this interest is due to the potential for serious gain, which could end up turning the internet into a monopoly of branded brick 'n mortar casinos.

However, the land-based casino industry is treading in foreign waters. That's precisely why the AGA spent $1.7 million lobbying for the U.S. government to conduct a legitimate study of the online gambling industry. They want to get an idea of the implications that regulation would have, with a big emphasis on the "taxation" part.

Also looking out for their own interests was the Online Poker Players Alliance, which spent over $900,000 on lobbying efforts to get online poker legalized, going so far as attempting to make a distinction between poker and all other online casino games and getting this "game of skill" a carveout under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Other contributors include Party Gaming and the online casino and gambling trade association, the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), spending a combined total of $760,000 to draw support for Congressman Barney Frank's Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA).

The biggest surprise of all was nearly half a million in contributions from Visa USA, which has been pressed by the U.S. government to not honor transactions made between U.S. citizens and online casinos. And while they certainly have, the funny thing is that it seems many U.S. citizens are being able to successfully use their credit/debit cards (not sure if their Visa per say) at a small handful of online casinos regarded as reputable and trustworthy by the gaming industry at large.



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