UIGEA Repeal? Casino Giants Looking to Wade in Online

Posted on March 9th, 2009

Things seem to be hotting up Stateside on the repeal of the UIGEA – the controversial Bush Administration bill which aimed to make it impossible for financial institutions in the USA from accepting bets from people playing casino and poker games online. The great and good of Vegas are watching the situation closely- they have been taking a hammering in the economic downturn and are looking over the fence at their online counterparts, green with envy- as revenues and players continue to grow on the Internet despite the ban. Most industry watchers think it is inevitable that the US will once again open up to online gaming.

And when it does, the big boys from Vegas are waiting in the wings with their Rat Pack suits and hats on, ready to join the party.

Harrah’s, MGM Mirage, and their brethren will all move their brands online and try to dominate the industry according to industry watchdogs. Hit in recent years by the costs of developing bigger and bigger gambling palaces, costs appear out of control in the real world and the Internet is seen as a great new source of income, particularly with the marketing power and existing customer base of these companies.

The American Gaming Association, who are basically the soundpiece for Las Vegas and New Jersey operators, has recently changed its stance on online gaming. Once a powerful opponent, the AGA is now softly supporting the online industry and prefers regulation to an outright ban.

Meanwhile the new kids on the block- the Internet casino operators, are watchng the situation unfold with interest. They are expecting the big guns from the desert to use their considerable lobbying power on Capitol Hill to bring about a licencing change and there are worries that this will favour US companies.

The Remote Gaming Association, a European online gambling body, is keeping close tabs on US legislation to ensure that free trade rules and protectionism is thrown out of the window.

The EC has already carried out an investigation into US Internet gambling policies, and may take things further at the World Trade Organization if protectionism rears its ugly head.

Whatever happens, the market is expected to continue to grow. This could be a good time to get into online gaming shares. Someone somewhere is going to have the idea that it is better to buy up the smaller fish lock stock and barrel than start from scratch.

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