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Fitch Ratings says legalization is increasingly likely

The highly influential business and credit ratings independent, Fitch Ratings, has issued a new report which avers that the legalisation of online gambling in the United States is "increasingly likely."

Reporting on the Fitch analysis, the Boston Herald this week quoted the company as noting that:

“Multiple states have been considering intrastate online gaming proposals, new federal proposals are being discussed, and the budget outlook at both state and federal levels remains strained.

“Companies have been ramping up online initiatives and/or entering into alliances, such as Wynn-PokerStars and Caesars-888 Holdings.”

The Fitch report estimates that U.S. online gaming revenues from offshore companies already range from $5 billion to $6 billion a year and could “ramp up significantly if regulations are liberalized.”

The analysis juxtaposes that revenue with the $60 billion in revenues that American gambling facilities raked in last year, including Native American and racetrack business.

Michael Paladino, a gambling industry analyst for Fitch, told the Boston Herald that “convenience products” like racetrack slot parlours and the Lottery would likely take the greatest hit should online gambling win federal or regional approval.

But the contours of an online gambling framework are still theoretical, and many questions about the potential impact of online gambling remain, he said.

“The question is, is it just poker? Is it broader than poker? Would it be just affiliated with interstate? Or is it a federal proposal?” he said. “There’s a lot of influences that could affect that equation. If it is interstate, does it go through the lottery commissions? Those are all questions that we have as well.”

The newspaper quotes Massachusetts state Treasurer Steve Grossman, who chairs the Massachusetts Lottery Commission, and claims that internet gambling is “a major competitive threat” to the lottery, which generates $4.5 billion in revenue a year and sends $800 million to $900 million a year to cities and towns as local aid.

“There is reason to be concerned about some developments that are taking place nationally. The demographics of lottery players is changing, it is aging," Grossman said.

"Internet gaming is becoming a major competitive threat,” he added. “If the Congress decides to go in the direction of Internet gaming, which is a federal issue, why wouldn’t Massachusetts, the most successful lottery in the United States with all kinds of technology here in Massachusetts, why shouldn’t we be able to put together a Massachusetts-based or a regional internet gaming product that would protect our lottery revenues?”

John Carlisle, a spokesman for Grossman, later confirmed that the lottery was working on a long term plan, and that the potential for online gambling will certainly be a consideration. “We also hope that as Congress deliberates the issue, they consider the significant impact that online gambling could have on local aid in Massachusetts and in virtually every other state,” he said.

Other politicians declined to comment on the internet gambling issue.

The Herald recalls that back in 2007 Governor Deval Patrick attempted to criminalise internet gambling in Massachusetts by inserting a clause into wider legislation, but this was never pursued, and his attempts to expand land gambling at the time failed.

Source: InfoPowa News

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