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MAJOR U.S. LOBBYING EFFORT FROM BRITISH ONLINE GAMBLING COMPANIES

Interesting industry reading over the weekend came from the British newspaper The Telegraph, which carried an article on the lobbying investment being made by UK groups interested in helping to shape American legislation on Internet gambling.
 
The newspaper reports that online payment services company UC Group, which is apparently advised by former Home Secretary David Blunkett, is one of several British companies spending millions of pounds lobbying American politicians. The firm has spent some GBP 3.2 million ($5.23 million) on lobbying fees in recent years, and is just one of several companies deploying millions to influence gambling legislation in the US. 

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The major online gambling groups Sportingbet, PartyGaming and Pokerstars have all hired high profile lobbying firms in the US to represent their interests as they prepare for the likely opening-up of the US online gaming market, the Telegraph reveals, joining a range of other UK-based commercial groups lobbying for change in different sectors of the US economy.
 
While lobbying in the US is legal and a recognised part of Washington's political culture, many people will be surprised by the extent of British companies' involvement in the process, claims the newspaper.
 
Companies in the UK – especially those in potentially controversial sectors such as online gambling, drinks and tobacco – spend significant amounts lobbying British politicians but there is no requirement to disclose the scope of that spending.
 
The payments in the US have come to light because the American system requires all lobbying to be disclosed on a quarterly basis. However, experts say the amount companies spend on shaping legislation in the US is far higher than the lobbying fees suggest because of other ancillary costs which do not have to be accounted for.
 
UC Group acts for 10 gambling companies offering back-office and anti-money laundering operations, and hopes to profit from any opening of the market. The group has worked to promote Senator Barney Frank's efforts to overturn the ban on online gaming. 

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The size of the company's lobbying expenses – which stretch to $2.31 million since last September alone – are particularly eye-catching given it made just GBP 3 million in pre-tax profits last year.
 
Kobus Paulsen, UC Group's chief executive, suggested it was part of the group's long-term strategy. "We are certain that our efforts will yield an open market for non-US based gaming operators," he told the Telegraph.
 
Ruth Parasol and Russell De Leon, the founders of PartyGaming, have spent up to GBP 929 000 on lobbying fees since last September to influence online gaming legislation in the US. It remains unclear whether any of those fees have been channelled towards lobbying over issues related to their potential prosecution for allegedly breaking US laws banning internet gambling.
 
Lobbying records for Sportingbet, the online gaming firm that also faces potential charges, show the company has paid $60 000 over the last year in relation to the "settlement of potential criminal charges related to online gambling".
 
The Telegraph also looks at the Camelot Group, operator of the National Lottery in the UK, which registered as a lobbying company in the US in November 2008. The group spent $20 000 in fees lobbying on issues on "federal regulations regarding private companies managing state lottery systems" before terminating its contract with O'Neill and Associates, the lobbying firm, in April this year.
 
The strategy appeared to pay dividends in June when the California State Lottery Commission approved the release of up to $13.5 million to pay consultancy fees to outside advisers, with Camelot expected to be the chief beneficiary.
 
Successful British companies in America appear to regard lobbying as a routine expense in their US operations. One executive at a company operating in the lobbying market said: "You simply have to put your money to work in that way at times. If we opted not to lobby, legislation would not be promoted."

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Gambling News :

Tain Fast Bet - Our readers will recall Tain recently increased the number of live events it covers each month to 23,000, covering both traditional markets such as football, tennis and US sports and the more obscure curling, biathlon and Water Polo.

Olympic Entertainment Group Mobile Gaming - In its full-year 2016 report, Olympic Entertainment Group (OEG) has informed the establishment of a Malta-based company registered to facilitate its intended expansion into remote gambling.

Circus Evolution HD Slot - Malta-based content provider World Match has released its first title of 2017, “Circus Evolution HD”, a 5-reel, 3-row, circus-themed adventure offering Free Spins, Wilds and a Bonus Game.

Kindred Group Gets EU Recommendation on Consumer Protection - Kindred Group (formerly Unibet) has become the first operator to successfully meet the requirements of the EU Recommendation on Consumer Protection and Responsible Gambling following an external audit.

17 Crown people still detained - Reports from China over the weekend suggest that the 17 Crown people still detained could be looking at another twelve months of imprisonment as investigations into their alleged and still unspecified crimes drag on

SB1400 Virginia Poker Skill Game Bill - Her bill SB1400 is currently with the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee, whose 15 members will decide whether to progress it or condemn the Senator to another year of failure.

Pennsylvania Video Gaming Association - With the focus on Pennsylvania as the most likely next US state to legalize online gambling as part of a general gambling expansion measure, reporters noted this week the emergence of a new lobbying group in the state - the Pennsylvania Video Gaming Association.

Stiffer Problem Gambling Penalties in UK - The Guardian newspaper reports that the UK Gambling Commission plans to unveil new enforcement strategies on problem gambling and money laundering prevention this month, laying down tougher penalties for operators who fail to tackle these issues.

Malaysian police Destroy over 5000 Gambling Computers - Malaysian police in Kajang have destroyed 5,042 computer sets seized in online gambling raids over the past two years, explaining that the action is designed to take the machines out of circulation.

Spartan Poker vs SpartanPoker name War - Pokerguru, which owns the brand SpartanPoker.com, has threatened to sue the Indian Poker Championship over its use of the title Spartan Poker, and recently published a notification that it is not associated with the IPC version of the brand.

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