Tuesday August 16,2011 :  Sizeable chunk of investment is on the legalization of online gambling
 
Gary Loveman, the CEO of the giant US land gambling group Caesars Entertainment, has been consistent in recommending the federal legalization of online gambling in the United States, and the latest lobbying numbers revealed through mandatory disclosure to Congress shows that the company is investing substantial sums in the concept.
 
Caesars Entertainment declared a total of $821 000 in its Q2-2011 lobbying advisory to the clerk of Congress, a startling 23 percent of the total lobbying spend by parties with an interest in regulated internet gambling during the quarter.
 
However, with major ‘contributors' like Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker likely out of the running after Black Friday, the Q2 lobbying spend actually decreased by some $326 000 compared with that invested in Q1-2011.
 
For example, PokerStars’ lobbying spend dropped by 19 percent in Q2 – the first time in almost two years that the company's investment in this activity has actually declined. The Interactive Gaming Council and the Poker Players Alliance, each probably also impacted by the US exclusion of major supporters, also slashed Q2 lobbying budgets by 28.3 percent and 7.1 percent respectively.
 
Interestingly, a European contender surfaced on the US lobbying scene for the first time; France’s Betclic Everest Group declared $50 000 in lobbying spend, presumably with the goal of getting a foot in the door when the US legalises online poker, an event that appears increasingly likely.
 
The usually well-informed Las Vegas Review-Journal reinforced that view last week, reporting that the veteran Democrat Congressman from Nevada and Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, had told one of its staffers that online poker would be legalised, and would be good for Nevada.
 
That was interpreted as an indication that major Nevada land gambling groups would likely get the first licenses, with more issued to tribal gambling operators in order to avoid controversy.
 
Caesar's hyper-active chief exec was also interviewed by the UK newspaper the Financial Times this weekend, where he is reported to have said that the US crackdown on Black Friday had left a vacuum in the market that needed to be filled by responsible and legal operators.
 
Loveman added: “I do believe there is a will in Congress to correct this …. we ought to clean up the regulatory and policing environment and that’s what we’re seeking.
 
“First, it creates the appropriate legal and enforcement environment where the game is being provided fairly by regulated entities that are known to the American authorities.
 
“Second, there’s a lot of job creation associated with this; we could provide thousands of American jobs if given the right to do so and there would be the benefit of tax revenues."