Gambling News » October 2007 » October 19, 2007.

Positive Online Gambling Industry Outlook Moving Forward.

After almost a year of bad news for the online gaming industry it appears that we are gaining momentum for a bounce back and an expanding iGambling market for 2008. On the recent Casino Affiliate Programs CAP Euro conference in Barcelona (that was held in the beginning of October) several major online casino and poker site operators were seriously considering a return to the US Market. Their reasoning is what we have been stressing all along. The legal exposure for operators of online casinos, poker and bingo is NOT appreciably greater now then it was in the past. The arrests which have occurred in the US all relate to Sports Betting and the long standing wire act not UIGEA. The withdrawal from the US market was a knee jerk reaction that has cost the online gambling industry hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and was clearly an over reaction to actual events in the news.

Operators have watched as the bottom lines for poker rooms which stayed the course and remained in the US grew exponentially while their fortunes shrunk. Needless to say they are eager to recapture those lost revenues and are in the final planning stages of how to make that happen. There are at least four poker rooms that accept U.S. based players and dozens of online casinos for U.S. players. In fact there are only two online gaming software providers that completely block all gamblers from USA - Playtech and Cryptologic; others accept players from certain States or filter them on a casino basis. The major problems now are small number of payment options for US gamblers and costly financial transactions.

Additional positive news comes from the World Trade Organization (WTO) which says the US could face up to $100 Billion in trade concessions due to the illegal restriction of trade that UIGEA and similar efforts created. This is probably the best chance of a speedy repeal of US Online Gaming restrictions. When it costs US taxpayers billions to enforce an unpopular law created by minority special interests then a change is sure to come.

The disputed concessions arise from Antigua's victory earlier this year when the WTO ruled that the US violated its treaty obligations by excluding online Antiguan gaming operators, while allowing domestic operators to offer various forms of online gaming. As a result, all 151 WTO members are considering seeking compensation for the withdrawal equal to the size of the entire US land-based and online gaming market, estimated at nearly US$100 billion. "This is absolute discrimination against foreign operators that the WTO has found to be illegal," said Nao Matsukata, former director of policy planning for the Office of the US Trade Representative.

The Barney Frank Bill and iMEGA (The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association) are also picking up support for our observations. "In our ongoing lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, iMEGA has pointed to the unconstitutional, chilling effect that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 has already imposed on all of our digital civil rights, by stifling innovation on the Internet and impeding our otherwise content-neutral financial system. The proposed regulations jointly promulgated today by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Department of the Treasury would, if anything, aggravate these already intolerable circumstances." said iMEGA president Edward J. Leyden.

We believe all these elements will lead to a return to free market economics and will be a major boon for iGaming industry in 2008. US players will have the right to choose the place to play and they will be more secure and protected.

Tags: UIGEA, Online Gambling, Online Casinos, Gaming Industry.

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