Online Gambling Legalization – Good & Bad News
Countries which refuse to see the logic in legalization of online gambling industry would do well to look at the experience of the French Government with online gambling market liberalization. The French Government had gone ahead with their decision a couple of months back to legalize the online gambling industry.
The process was handled by ARJEL, the French company in charge of liberalization of the market. After the decision to regularize the gambling industry was made several licenses were issued to private online gambling service operators to allow them to conduct their business in the French market. Just two months into the process and the results are beginning to show. Poker, betting, sports and casino sites have returned overwhelming figures for the period.
The chairman of the Regulatory Authority of Online Games has stated that bets to tune of more than Euro 80 million has been registered during this period. More than one million registered accounts have been created on government approved gambling websites. These figures are indeed very revealing and should set the government of countries advocating continuous ban on online gambling, to think on different lines.
It is worth mentioning here that before the legislation happened, there was only one firm, La Francaise des Jeux, which was allowed to carry out online gambling services. Their reported turnover during the period for 2009 was Euro 43 million. With the entry of many firms into the legal gambling market, that figure will surely multiply itself many times. The message should now go loud and clear to other countries that legalizing and taxing the online gaming market can pay rich dividends for everyone concerned.
Meanwhile in the US there is a bill regarding legalizing online gambling coming up for hearing. In 2009, Barney Frank, a Congressman from Massachusetts had proposed a bill in order to find solution to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The Act came into effect from 1st June leaving online gaming operators and supporters worried about the fate of the industry, especially sine the HR has not come up for discussions until now.
The good news is that the House Financial Services Committee has finally scheduled a hearing for the HR this month. Online gaming service providers are hopeful that the bill will move them one more step towards legalization of online gaming industry. Some skepticism stems from the fact that the bill is scheduled for a half day hearing and no list of witnesses have been prepared or released as yet. The agenda is therefore shrouded under a lot of uncertainty.
Another reason why there is not much enthusiasm among the online gaming community is because there has not been a mark up scheduled. To vote on the bill another hearing needs to be scheduled, which means more time and certainly more uncertainty. Adding to the ambiguity of the situation is the fact that only six new supporters have signed up in support of the bill in 2010.
This obviously means that the support for the bill is at its maximum at this stage. Unfortunately this just does not seem to be enough. Online gambling operators and customers are in for another long haul as far the legalization of the gambling industry is concerned.