Loyal online casino gamers have known for a long time that the casino landscape is riddled with politics. Despite the success that legislation has had in curtailing many of the seedier casinos from springing up, and customer satisfaction polls amongst gamblers showing great promise, politics continues to bar the way in many locales and deprive eager gamers of the chance to log on and play.
The federal government is doing its best to stop online gambling from taking a foothold on American soil; but even they seem to be admitting that they can’t hold it off forever. The bulk of their efforts have moved from blocking it, to calling for regulation. Not all of it is misplaced, actually. Republican Peter King seeks to implement regulations to protect consumers, and facilitate participation by businesses and players of legal age. Without regulation, it would be too easy for minors to play with their parents’ credit cards and get swindled out of their accounts – responsible gambling isn’t quite the domain of teenagers. That, everyone can probably agree on. Democrats Barney Frank and Harry Reid are probably the two most stalwart proponents of regulation and their efforts are starting to bear positive fruit.
Even when specifically political players aren’t throwing their weight around, the online community has to deal with disgruntled land-based casino owners like Sheldon Anderson – CEO of the Las Vegas Sands. Mr. Anderson continues to fund anti-online gambling groups to stonewall the eventual ratification (see New Jersey’s recent success in the online casino market) of cyberspace-base casinos. His Coalition to Stop Online Gambling presents a big threat to the desires of other brick-and-mortar casino owners, many of whom are in favor of the coming internet expansion. With Sheldon Adelson’s $38 billion net worth, his Coalition certainly has the funds to make a case before Congress for enforcement and expansion of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
Recently, Adelson has been joined (somewhat) by Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts International. These two giants are working together against the establishment of online gambling, and they both stand against the rest of the industry – which includes MGM Resorts and Caesar’s Entertainment. The latter have launched their own political lobbying group to fend off the advances of Adelson’s Coalition. This group, the American Gaming Association, is now primed to battle Wynn’s contribution if necessary.
Despite the financial and political clout that has been organized against the prospect of online gambling within the States, the tide seems to be on the side of the players. New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have either launched, or are in the process of launching, online video poker spots for their residents. It seems that, even on the Republican side, the tide has turned from outright prohibitions against online casinos, to calls for regulation. The Treasury Department has an Office of Internet Gambling Oversight all primed and ready for the seemingly inevitable debut of casinos nationwide – although there’s no telling how long that future will take to get here. So far, in early 2014, Nevada has successfully been running some online casinos with tens-of-thousands of player accounts – and growing.
Anyone who’s fired up the old laptop, desktop or new mobile device, is likely aware of the popularity of the UK-controlled online gambling hotspots. In particular, Gibraltar is the haven for online gamblers, with its numerous gambling sites. Many – if not most – of the licensed online casinos reside in this online gaming island. However, that all may be poised to change; recently, the British government has proposed a 15 percent tax rate hike, which threatens to send many of the online casinos scurrying elsewhere.
The rationale for this tax hike, according Prime Minister Cameron, is to create a balance between land-based casinos and virtual ones. This may be the same thing that the United State’s Sheldon Adelson is so afraid of, and a tax hike might be just what’s needed to quell the political fury of his Coalition. But others rightfully fear that this will actually drive businesses elsewhere; it remains to be seen which one wins out.