Thursday, 24 November 2011

Make up your mind

Ever since the US Department of Justice cracked down on a number of gambling operators back in April, it seems clear what should happen with businesses that attempt to offer online gambling services to US citizens: arrest and prosecution.

However, a few months down the line, the US landscape seems more fragmented than ever. While the Irish operator PaddyPower is in the final stages of obtaining a licence to start offering gaming services to mobile phone users in the State of Nevada, on the other side of the country one-time Australian internet gambling high-flyer Daniel Tzvetkoff is still in the FBI's witness protection programme in order to testify against the indicted operators. Further south, in Florida to be precise, there are plans to introduce an online gambling Bill as pro-gambling lawmakers felt hugely encouraged after an appeals court in the Sunny State ruled on 5 October that lawmakers can authorise slot machines anywhere in Florida, a decision that, many experts think, could open the door for a further liberalisation of gambling activities - online as well as offline - in Florida.

There is a similar initiative in Illinois, and with the financial climate in the back of their minds, many legislators are more than willing to explore any possibility for new sources of income. And over in New York, entrepreneur and billionaire Donald Trump, who briefly considered running for the 2012 Presidency only a few months ago, said he would launch a poker room in partnership with hedge fund manager Marc Lasry if the US decides to regulate.

So, with pro-gambling initiatives taking place all over the country and the debate on regulation far from over, many feel the three indicted operators are receiving a harsh treatment. Many lawmakers as well as lawyers, feel uncomfortable with the 'Black Friday' arrests and current proceedings.

For an outsider, it is almost impossible to get a clear picture of what the American gambling market currently entails, or in fact, what it does not. It seems the US can not seem to make up its mind. Therefore, the current situation is far from stable: although there is a federal ban on online gambling activities, many Americans continue to gamble online and individual states are aggressively pursuing their own policies.

The full article was published previously in World Online Gambling Law Report, CPP, London 2011. Copyrights apply.