Wednesday September 25,2013 : GLITZ AND ONLINE POKER POLITICS MIX AT G2E
The American Gambling Association's new chief remains fixated on a federal solution.
Giant dinosaurs, blue avatar characters and soul trees, and showgirls made up like zombies were just part of the glitz and entertainment as the US gambling industry showcased its wares at the G2E Expo in Las Vegas Tuesday, but underlying the hype was the hard talk of business and politics as an estimated 25,000 delegates gathered.
Addressing for the first time at G2E both delegates and the media, the new chief exec at the American Gambling Association trade body, Geoff Freeman pretty much met industry predictions that he would hew to the usual AGA pro-federal and poker-only line when it came to online gambling policy.
Freeman did not disappoint, revisiting all the old arguments put forward by the AGA and its land casino members, and in particular pushing hard for a federal regime to "clear up ambiguities" in existing laws and avoid a "patchwork" of regulations due to state-by-state legalization.
The AGA exec went further than that, however, continuing his rather insulting comparison of many online gambling operators with the villainous activities of a fictional movie character in the recently released film "Runner Runner" and announcing the launch of the AGA's new Online Villains.com website which suggests that "Sometimes movie villains are real…..".
“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 Freeman, revealing that his Association has also made a video commercial on the subject.
Freeman screened the visual ad made by his organisation to leverage the publicity achieved by the movie…unfortunately for the AGA, theatres have declined to run the material, it appears, but the AGA will continue to deploy it in an attempt to influence lawmakers and the public.
InfoPowa readers can assess the rather sombre ad for themselves here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt9pcAFYiP0
In a more practical contribution to industry affairs, the AGA exec admitted that the Washington environment would not likely be conducive to the evolution of a federal online poker-only solution for the internet and mobile sector anytime soon, and that consequently the Association is hedging its bets by remaining engaged with the emerging US online gambling industry.
“Anyone who has been to Washington recently knows that the environment for getting a bill done is not there,” Freeman said during a media briefing before the show opened.
He also unveiled the results of a fresh H2 Gambling Capital study which indicates that Americans spent $2.6 billion on gambling websites in 2012, down from $2.8 billion in 2011.
The study by the British-based research firm found Americans accounted for a significant 10 percent share of the $33 billion worldwide online gambling market, despite the legal limbo of most Internet betting, occasioned by confusing US federal and state laws.
Annual online gambling spending by Americans peaked prior to the UIGEA in 2006 at $5 billion.
H2 concluded that the amount Americans bet on online poker fell from a peak of $1.6 billion in 2006, when the US barred financial transactions for online betting with the UIGEA, to just $219 million in 2012.
G2E organisers have claimed that the show this year remains America's premier gambling expo, with over 460 exhibitors unveiling their latest gaming products.