Gamblers in the U.S. shelled out a combined $2.6 billion playing online in 2012, according to an American Gaming Association-sanctioned (AGA) study that’s been compiled as the industry gets ready to push Congress to regulate online betting in the U.S. According to statistics, the U.S. is a significant contributor towards the international gaming industry and AGA says it’s time for the feds to clarify what’s kosher when it comes to Internet gambling, once and for all.
AGA Says Federal Regs Needed
Because the study shows that Americans make up about 10 percent of the $33 billion global gambling market, the AGA says it’s time to stop pussyfooting around and make clear what’s legal for U.S online players now.
The confusion has centered over sometimes conflicting and confusing judicial mandates on the issues of Internet gambling in all its many forms. Back in 2011, a long-standing general blanket that said no online wagering was legal was suddenly reversed when the Justice Department released a new interpretation saying that online wagering was acceptable, with the exception of sports betting as outlined in the original federal treatise on this topic known as the 1961 Wire Act.
As the U.S. states enter these now-murky waters one by one, it’s been a bit of a smorgasbord, with Nevada offering only online poker, while New Jersey and soon other states prepare a full range on Internet casino games to launch before the end of the year.
Running off of Runner Runner
It seems the casino industry plans to use the imminent release of the slightly fictionalized online poker movie Runner Runner to try to galvanize federal legislators into taking some concrete action, although historically this path has been longer and more meandering than trying to walk the Great Wall of China in flip flops. The film details what happens when a college kid (Justin Timberlake, who’s 32 but who’s counting) gets wrapped up with an online poker operator (Ben Affleck) in Costa Rica when Timberlake confronts Affleck about what he believes was cheating with online poker funds.
“Runner, Runner is a fictional account of a lawless online poker world ruled by shady and unethical characters that sadly is not far from reality for millions of Americans who simply want to enjoy one of our favorite pastimes in a safe online environment,” said AGA CEO Geoff Freeman about the film. “Americans account for nearly 10 percent of the global online gaming marketplace at a time when the business is illegal in all but three American states. It is past time for policymakers to put necessary safeguards in place.”
Clearly, Freeman’s ploy is to scare federal legislators into action, which shows he hasn’t watched very many Congressional sessions of late. Money laundering fears, of course, are what got the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) on the books to begin with, which ultimately led to the arrest of the kingpins on the big three poker sites and the demise of those sites’ availability to U.S. players, back in 2011.
AGA – which is a casino lobbying arm, representing many, but not all, of the major U.S. gambling brands – is taking the tac that there needs to be federal oversight of online poker, and is against having other forms of online gambling available to American players.