Good News and Bad News from the US
April 13, 2009
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The good news is being told first. Democrat Congressman Barney Frank from Massachusetts had indicated that he would be introducing his bill to legalize and regulate online gambling in the U.S. immediately after Easter. The Easter break is behind and online players are eagerly waiting for news of introduction of the bill. Last month the online gambling fraternity was a bit disappointed when Frank announced that bill would not be introduced in March as earlier promised.
There were two reasons for this delay. One was that some other bills were accorded priority. These were the stimulus bill and other financial rescue packages that Frank was obligated to attend to as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. The other reason was that the bill needed some last minute reworking to ensure that it faces less hurdles and moves faster. In this Frank is working closely with the legal cell of the Poker Players Alliance. The idea is to word the bill so that there is no ambiguity as to what is legal gambling and what is illegal gambling. Frank had introduced a similar bill last year, which lapsed when the administration changed.
The bad news comes from Joel Simkins of Macquarie Securities. Simkins is of the opinion that federal legislation legalizing online gambling should not be expected in the short term. His opinion has apparently surprised many in the industry, who perceive the Obama administration as being online gambling friendly. Simkins’ opinion also belies the optimism exuded by Barney Frank and others who are going ahead with the legislation process. The main reason cited by Simkins is that the Congress is busy with more important issues.
Simkins expressed his views in connection with investors betting huge sums on Internet gambling becoming legal soon. In fact he put heavy odds on the legalization of online gambling going through. Sims said, “Given the more pressing economic concerns of industries that currently employ considerably more potential voters than online gaming ever will, we think the odds are very slim that online gaming will be supported on Capitol Hill.” This is also the belief held by Washington lobbyists and casino company operators who have the pulse of Capitol Hill.
According to Simkins the gambling industry as a whole is not speaking with one voice on Internet gambling. For example the American Gaming Association, the industry’s Washington lobbying arm, has now become neutral on the issue of online gambling because its members hold divergent views. One of the gambling sectors against online gambling is the powerful land based sport betting industry. Frank too is aware of this problem and in fact he is negotiating with leaders of this section to find a way out.
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