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U.S. lobbying on internet gambling legalisation intensifies

A new BV Media study on second quarter lobbying in the United States shows that significant investments are still being made by major organisations interested in the legalisation of online gambling.

Mandatory disclosures show that in the second quarter of 2010, 43 special interest groups spent approximately $4.21 million lobbying online gaming and related issues, up from 36 groups and approximately $4.20 million in the first quarter.

Harrah's Entertainment was among the leaders, putting up $1.02 million lobbying Congressman Barney Frank's HR 2267 licensing bill, and increasing its lobbying spend from the $905,515 it invested in the first quarter.

Another big spender was the Mastercard group, which boosted its lobbying effort by 143.6% to $332,857 in Q2/2010.

Internet gambling supporters spent the most to influence policy during the quarter, accounting for an estimated $3.37 million, or 80.1% of total spend. Meanwhile, those neutral on the issue spent an estimated $663,442, or 15.8% of total, and those opposed spent an estimated $171,438, or 4.1% of total.

Other lobbying spends of note includes:

UC Group $487,690 (Q1/2010 - $522,239)

Poker Players Alliance $450,000 (Q1/2010 $450,000)

IGC $429 000 (Q1/2010 $439 080)

Significantly, a number of Las Vegas operators and federally recognised Indian tribes began reporting lobbying expenses for Internet gambling - including Boyd Gaming Corporation and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians - indicating increased interest in the issue among the United States' top brick-and-mortar businesses.

Historically, Internet gambling has proven a divisive issue for gambling industry trade groups like the American Gaming Association and the National Indian Gaming Association. Bola Verde Media Group expects land-based operators and equipment manufacturers, therefore, will continue to step out from behind those organisations to lobby the issue in the second half of 2010.

With a fragile coalition of Las Vegas' biggest operators and equipment manufacturers now behind legalising online poker, the view out of Nevada on Internet regulation, arguably, has never been more positive, the media group opines.

However, if that coalition is unable to swing a workable tax rate and a regime under which states are deputised by the federal government to regulate online gaming, their support for any regulatory bill will likely evaporate.

What will it take to get all stakeholder groups at the same table, what do those groups want, and just how far is each willing to bend to get it? These are key questions addressed in BV Media's white paper on the issue, titled "Internet Gambling Federal Lobbying Report."

Author Chris Krafcik says: "It's a fact: Congress has never been as interested in Internet gambling as it is now."

The new report can be purchased online here.

Source: InfoPowa News

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