Tuesday August 7,2012 : U.S. LOBBYISTS STILL HARD AT WORK
Q2:2012 numbers from the Center For Responsive Politics.
Gambling interests continued to pour dollars into lobbyist firms for a range of gambling-related issues in the second quarter of 2012, according to mandatory filings with Congress.
This time around it appears that technology supply companies – either software or testing services – have been especially active, perhaps manoeuvring for position to benefit from any online gambling legalization, and the business potential that carries.
GTech was particularly involved, investing more than $30,000 above their last tranche at $115,000, whilst Intralot maintained the same budget with a the $90,000 lobby-spend.
Payment processing was represented in the shape of a slightly reduced lay-out of $60,000 from UC Group, which also supports the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative advocacy group.
Machine and content provider International Game Technology reprised its last contribution of $50,000, whilst testing agency GLI coughed up $30,000, having recently announced a massive expansion of its testing facility in Las Vegas. IGT has been very industrious in building online capability this year with acquisitions like DoubleDown Interactive.
Among the operators, the main Caesars Entertainment group dished out almost a million in the quarter at $955,000 – up almost $70,000 from its previous report, with MGM Resorts and Rational Entertainment Enterprises, better known as Pokerstars, a poor second at around $150,000 apiece.
Racing company Churchill Downs Inc. invested another $80,000 during the quarter, and was matched by the European online betting group Bwin.Party digital entertainment, hardly surprising in view of its partnerships with MGM and Boyd Gaming with online poker in mind. Speaking of Boyd – that group spent slightly less at $50,000 in the quarter.
The social gaming giant Zynga and its online gambling ambitions have made many a headline in 2012, and they appear to be seeking political friends with a lobbying budget for Q2 of $75,000
Penn National Gaming's interest was maintained unchanged at $70,000, as was Station Casinos, which spent only $30,000 despite the mounting interest of owners Fertitta brothers in the online gambling milieu.
For all its owner's much-publicised opposition to internet gambling, Las Vegas Sands only devoted $30,000 to lobbying on a diversity of interests.
Industry trade bodies continued to show a lively interest in the lobbyist sector, with the American Gaming Association – representing most of the big names in Vegas land gambling – writing cheques for $755,000 (a significant rise of around $150,000) to make its feelings known on a range of subjects.
The vociferous Poker Players Alliance was somewhat quieter, decreasing its lobby-spend by around $65,000 to a still substantial quarter-million dollars.
Online gambling operators' association, the Interactive Gaming Council also cut back spending, investing $60,000 less at $150,000 in Q2.
Presumably racing issues were the focus of activity by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association ($90,000); and the American Greyhound Track Operators Association ($30,000).
Tribal attitudes towards online gambling have been under the microscope just recently, and this sector of the gambling industry was noticeably present in second quarter lobbying statistics.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians paid out $80,000, followed by the Kalispel Tribe on $70,000, the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation and the United Auburn Indian Community on $50,000 each, and slightly smaller commitments of the Barona Band of Mission Indians, the Tulalip Tribes and the Muckleshoot Tribe.
The Auburn and Muckleshoot investments are worth noting in light of recent industry deals by these bodies.
The United Auburn Indian Community recently entered into a ten-year agreement with Bwin.Party, a major online gaming company, to provide the technology for the tribe’s online poker services should California legalise Internet gaming, whilst the Muckleshoot of Washington State recently completed a social gaming equity deal with Bookie Mania Ltd.