Online gambling has always been a contentious issue for many politicians in the US, but a new lobby group is hoping to change their attitudes. Known as the i-Development and Economic Association (iDEA), the new lobbying group has recently opened its first office in America’s capital, Washington D.C.
The press release that followed this move stated that iDEA is ‘an association seeking to grow jobs and expand online interactive entertainment business in the United States through advocacy and education.’ As the third largest country in the world, a legal betting market in the States would mean big business!
iDEA is a lobby group that seeks to represent the major players of the iGaming industry. It plans to lobby politicians and federal legislators with the ultimate goal of creating a regulated market for online gambling across all US states. By using New Jersey as a positive case study, iDEA hopes it can put forward an optimistic and constructive argument that will help shift both the balance of power and public opinion.
iDEA has already published its findings on the data compiled from New Jersey. It’s one of the few states that allows its citizens to legally gamble online – the New Jersey Legislature approved a bill that allowed online gambling in 2013, and the New Jersey Governor signed it into law on the basis of a 10-year trial period.
The lobbyists analysed the New Jersey data from 2015 and 2016. It showed that in 2016 the online gambling industry produced $34.5 million in gaming taxes alone. This was split into $29.5 million for the entire state and $4.9 million locally, as the majority of online gambling sites run out of the casinos in the gaming hub of Atlantic City. This represented an increase of 32% over the same period in 2015.
iDEA is comprised of a number of representatives from different companies and organisations who wish to challenge the current status quo and educate lawmakers on the benefits of a regulated online gambling market. They believe that other organisations, such as the American Gaming Association (AGA), are hindering rather than helping the promotion of online gambling.
The AGA’s largest donor is Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp and also a mega-donor to the Republican party. Adelson has tried numerous times to lobby for a ban on online gambling, and has said he’s ‘willing to spend what it takes’ to stop online gambling. Some of those involved with iDEA include well-known betting brands such as Paddy Power Betfair, Tropicana Entertainment, and Golden Nugget.
Others are game developers and software designers like Amaya, NetENT, NYX, Gamesys, Pala Interactive, Vantiv Gaming Solutions, Resorts Interactive, and live platform provider eZugi. There are also those who provide software tools or payment support, such as Paysafe, GVC Holdings, Sightline Payments, Continent 8 Technologies, Catena Media. Rounding off the group is law firm Ifrah Law, a company which has become synonymous with the defence of the iGaming industry.
With its ‘Hands-on Counsel, Gloves-off Litigation’ approach, Ifrah Law has represented many of the industry’s top names since the inception of the online gambling industry, including Full Tilt Poker and Poker Stars when the American Department of Justice prosecuted them in 2011 for offering online poker. Ifrah Law even commissioned a public White Paper on the subject of the iGaming industry, covering the status of the industry and the related laws in each US state.
Currently only three states across the US allow online gambling: Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. Out of the three it was New Jersey that was seen as the greatest achievement so far in the fight for online gambling in America. The populations of Delaware and Nevada were not considered big enough to promote online gambling, with it simply adding to the large number of land-based casinos that already existed in those states.
Despite not reaching the $180 million in tax that Chris Christie lauded when signing the New Jersey bill, its high growth and double-digit figures has certainly strengthened the case for online gambling. Further to that, other states such as Illinois, Georgia, and Minnesota used similar laws and consumer protection to introduce the sale of online lottery tickets.
The jump in revenue in these markets may yet pave the way for online casinos or online slot sites being offered in the future. Analysts had expected another state to bring forward legislation in 2017, with either Pennsylvania, California, or New York the most likely candidates. However, with the Republicans controlling the House and the Senate, it may take a little longer than those analysts originally thought.
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