It’s the time of year that everyone gets to recap their little corner of the world for previous year. There are articles on the Best and Worst of on almost every topic under the sun. But in the gambling world the big story was really the ongoing stories of the past several years and New Jersey. Below find our Cheers and Jeers for the online gambling industry in 2010.
Though Jeers have outweighed Cheers over the last few years this year saw several bright lights in the online gambling industry.
1) Barney Frank: The Massachusetts representative pushed very hard to get the UIGEA repealed and made solid headway with HR 2267 – The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. Frank managed to get 69 Representatives to support his bill and had the bill advance with a 41-22 vote back in July. However, more pressing issues like the economy, health care and re-elections doomed the Bill which never advanced through several other committees and reached the full House of Reps for a vote. Frank did get re-elected in November and though his power will be diminished a bit, he most certainly will still fight for personal freedoms.
2) New Jersey: It was inevitable. Atlantic City is dying due to the economy and the rise in casinos in neighboring states. So, New Jersey, specifically Senator Raymond Lesniak, introduced and pushed through legislation for online poker and casino games within the state borders and has a ballot initiative scheduled for the New Year regarding sportsbetting. In addition, they are looking at more ways to wager on the Internet for their horse racing industry which has been spiraling downward for several years. Look for New Jersey to top this list in 2011 and, if they get their ways and introduce what has passed through the legislature, for other states to follow New Jersey’s lead.
3) Bookmaker and 5Dimes: These two books stepped up big in 2010 by scooping up or ‘bailing out’ several smaller books. Had Bookmaker not stepped in with GamblersPalace and Las Palmas/EHorse, thousands of customers would certainly have been stiffed. 5Dimes acquired/partnered with Sportbet/Island and VietBet/BetAnySports to solidify those operations. We still expect to see more consolidation as the fast-paced online gambling industry continues to grow and expand.
4) iMEGA: This group continues to make our list. They are an assemblage of lawyers and industry people that in 2010 fought domain seizures and helped out with New Jersey’s fight regarding online gambling and sportsbetting. iMEGA continues the tireless fight in courtrooms around the country and though this year did not see them quite as active as the two previous ones, they played an important role and will certainly be working hard in 2011.
5) Canada: The ally to the North has certainly gotten the attention of the U.S. In Canada, B.C. and Quebec got into the online gambling business and now Ontario and other provinces are ready to follow suit. They did have a glitch in one of their games that cause a stir back in November, but the Canadians seem to get what the U.S. government refuses to acknowledge: People are already betting offshore/online and thus, maybe legalization and regulation is a better way to go.
Las Vegas Senator Harry Reid gets a couple of Cheers and a Jeer. Reid faced a huge fight in his home state of Las Vegas in the mid-term elections and did get enough support to win. He gets a Cheer for fighting hard to retain his seat and also get an additional Cheer for circulating a bill after his re-election in the lame duck session of Congress to legalize and regulate online gambling. However, he also deserves a Jeer for not following though with the same tactic that got much of this mess going – the attachment of the UIGEA (a online gambling bill that had little chance)to the 2006 Safe Port Act (a must pass bill). C’mon Harry, don’t tease us in 2011, if you start something in the next session of Congress, please, please follow through with it!
1) Kentucky: We reported back in 2008 that the state had almost no chance of seizing 141 domain names that it claims are breaking Kentucky law by allowing residents to wager with them. Instead over two years later they are still fighting their case in the courtrooms of the Bluegrass State. Thus, a case that never should have been allowed to occur gets our #1 Jeer for 2010.
2) U.S. Department of Justice: This law enforcement arm of the government has ceased going after online gambling companies and instead have focused on payment processors. The DoJ simply waves the UIGEA and seizes funds from payment processors. The take is in the hundreds of millions and this year payments were disrupted at many online gambling establishments simply by the easy ‘take down’ of money processing companies.
3) California: The state was poised to pass legislation to allow online poker in 2010. With supporters far outweighing opponents, the bill regulating California intrastate online gambling seemed a lock to pass. But infighting amongst Indian tribes and existing card rooms that may or may not benefit from online play derailed the efforts of State Senator Roderick Wright. Until these groups figure out how to carve up the lucrative online poker pie, California will take a back seat to New Jersey and perhaps others.
4) UIGEA implementation: How the banks become the police of Internet gambling still boggles our minds. Still, the 2006 law was implemented in June and now online gaming houses will not process MasterCard for fear of having thier funds frozen. Many books were left scrambling at several points during the year and saw check-writing houses close, person-to-person transfers reduced and repeated delays in payout times. Even U.S.-based Internet horse racing sites had problems getting payments through after the mid-year implementation due to the vagueness of the law.
Considering the speed at which the online gaming industry moves, 2010 was a year that saw the continuation of many of the same stories from 2009 and even 2008. Now, with the changing of the guard back to the Republicans that brought us the UIGEA, it may be a long time until there is any change in U.S. laws at the Federal level. However, with States eyeing new revenue sources, online gambling will most certainly become a reality somewhere within U.S. borders in 2010.