The UK gambling consultantcy Global Betting and Gaming Consultants (GBGC) was in the news over the weekend with its bullish predictions for online gambling despite the tough world economic environment.
Chief Executive Warwick Bartlett was widely quoted on his prediction that the world's gambling market is set to grow from $345 billion in 2007 to US$433 billion by 2012, with Internet activity benefitting from players' inclination to stay home and save on transport costs to land casinos.
In the GBGC report "Change is on the Cards" Bartlett says: "The slowdown in the USA will hit the pockets of Americans and Las Vegas will feel the effect of that along with high energy costs and a transportation system reliant on road and air. The US has not invested sufficiently in high speed rail, and destination resorts going forward will suffer as the cost of carbon-based fuels continues to be an issue of cost and supply," he said.
Bartlett is critical of British authorities, accusing them of missing out on an opportunity to pull in offshore operators and urging a rethink on Internet gambling taxation: "The bookmakers in October 2001 did a deal with the then Chancellor Gordon Brown to repatriate their internet gambling sites back to the UK in exchange for betting to be taxed on bookmakers' gross profits," says Bartlett.
"For five years it has worked well but now the bookmakers are losing market share to offshore operators and the government needs to re-think its strategy. The offshore bookmakers are now investing the tax saving in marketing and scooping up the business. The current ‘gentlemen's agreement' is not sustainable in my view. The UK is missing the opportunity to create jobs, wealth, and taxation in a sustainable industry."
The complex European legal situation is addressed in the report, with the forecast that market expansion across Europe is taking place as governments come to terms with rulings from the European Courts of Justice that there should be equity and no interference with the free passage of goods and services between EU member nations.
Bartlett's company is also bullish about the future of two mega land casinos in Singapore and the prospect that the second largest gambling nation, Japan, could have a legal land casino within 5 years.
Referring to the current situation as the perfect storm for the Internet gambling sector, GBGC points to the tough global economic conditions allied to high energy and fuel costs, cheap broadband Internet connection and a smoking ban in all licensed land premises in most countries of the world.
"People are leaving their cars in the garage, playing online bingo or watching a match on TV and placing a bet from the comfort of an armchair," said Bartlett.
"The land based businesses are going to find it hard to compete with the value on the Internet and with as much as 30 percent of gambling revenue now leaving the UK and going offshore the government should take note."