Better Late Than Never: Online Gambling Finally Has A US Advocacy Group

Steve Ruddock June 21, 2017 2612 Reads
US online gambling

A newly formed advocacy group is hoping to reverse the years-long trend of promising online gambling legislation falling short in American statehouses.

iDEA, the iDevelopment and Economic Association, currently boasts 20 members, ranging from online gaming operators and land-based casino interests to payment processing and media companies. All the founding members have ties to online gambling in the US.

iDEA membership currently consists of:

  • Amaya (Rational Group)
  • Catena Media
  • Continent8 Technologies
  • eZugi
  • Gamesys
  • Golden Nugget
  • GVC Holdings
  • Ifrah Law
  • IGT
  • NetEnt
  • NYX
  • PaddyPower/Betfair
  • Pala Interactive
  • PaySafe
  • Resorts Casino-Hotel
  • SciGames
  • Sightline Payments
  • Tropicana Entertainment
  • Vantiv Gaming Solutions

Look to New Jersey iGaming

iDEA’s first order of business was a white paper highlighting the successes and benefits online gambling has brought to New Jersey.

Nathan Associates and Victor-Strategies were engaged to create iDEA’s white paper, titled “Economic Impact of New Jersey Online Gaming: Lessons Learned.”

The white paper is a comprehensive look at, among other things:

  • The number of jobs created
  • Revenue generated
  • The social impact of online gambling in New Jersey.

Among the report’s findings are:

  • $998.3 million in direct and indirect output.
  • 3,375 jobs, resulting in $218.9 million in wages to employees.
  • $124.4 million in tax revenue, including $83.5 million in online gambling taxes.
  • No measurable increase in underage play or bankruptcy.

The white paper also concludes the New Jersey model is transportable. Other states can replicate the NJ experience with online gambling legalization.

Two such jurisdictions are Illinois and Pennsylvania.

A white paper produced by gaming analyst Chris Grove estimates $140 million in direct revenue would be sent to the state of Illinois in the first year of legal online gambling.

Similar research from analyst Robert DellaFave indicates Pennsylvania would stand to gain over $400 million during the five years following legalization.

Just what the doctor ordered for iGaming?

Following a 2011 Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel opinion effectively green-lighting intrastate online gaming, three states — Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey — legalized online gambling in rapid succession.

Unfortunately, not a single state has joined that list since, despite legislative efforts in Washington, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, California, Michigan and more.

It’s probably not a coincidence that legalization efforts began to stall after Sheldon Adelson announced his campaign in November 2013 to “spend whatever it takes” to stop online gambling legislation.

Shortly thereafter, legalization efforts were dealt another blow when the American Gaming Association stopped supporting online gambling regulation efforts. The AGA’s departure eliminated a key lobbying voice. The group’s decision to take no position on online gambling came from a rift in its membership. Adelson led that effort.

Since the AGA’s policy change, we’ve witnessed many legislative stalemates. Casino and gaming interests have battled to improve their positions in the potential markets.

Instead of legislation designed to benefit the industry as a whole, dueling bills that place one group’s interests over another have resulted in a growing stack of failed legislation.

A perfect example is the current situation in Pennsylvania, where certain casinos are trying to maintain their interests and supremacy by calling on lawmakers to craft legislation that creates barriers to entering and succeeding in the online gambling market.

Can iDEA provide the final nudge?

iDEA will try to offer a singular message to explain the benefits online gambling creates for states, potential operators and customers.

Instead of each casino or gaming company making their own, often contradictory, cases, iDEA can act on behalf of all involved and smooth out points of disagreement in messaging before it’s delivered to lawmakers.

In its “Who We Are” section, iDEA describes its role:

“iDEA (iDevelopment and Economic Association) is an association seeking to grow jobs and expand online interactive entertainment business in the United States through advocacy and education.

 

“Interactive online entertainment is a multi-billion dollar global industry providing customers with dozens of secure and regulated gaming options ranging from casinos with online betting operations, online poker, social and mobile games, sweepstakes, and lotteries.

 

“The majority of businesses in this sector operate outside the United States due to legislative and regulatory barriers. Popular support is growing rapidly in the U.S. for expansion of online interactive entertainment.”

Now, iDEA just has to turn this mission statement into results.

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