Internet Bingo and the Political Circus

As 2011 draws to a close the US is no closer to legalizing online gambling and the future looks uncertain. There have been several attempts in congress to overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in congress. One of the biggest supporters of internet gambling, Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, has announced he is retiring and will not seek another term. Since the draconian law was passed some politicians and lobby groups have tried to make internet gambling legal. Since the law was passed as new administration has taken office. Internet gaming supporters had hoped the Obama administration would be sympathetic to internet gaming but those hopes were dashed in April when the justice department seized the domains and assets of four poker sites. About a month later the justice department seized the domain of a popular internet bingo site.

Many in the gaming industry are not optimistic about the prospects for legalization of internet gambling. Some analysts believe the upcoming 2012 elections could keep any discussions of internet gambling off the table until after the elections. They also say that the timing could not be worse for any internet gaming legislation. Some political and gaming analysts believe that there will be no legislation until 2013 or even 2015. In the meantime the cash strapped government is losing billions in potential revenues. In addition some of the most vocal opponents of internet gambling have received large contributions from entrenched land based gambling interests. Obama has received more than $70,000 from land based gambling interests.

Many opponents express concerns about underage gambling. This is an issue that has already been addressed with new technologies to prevent underage gambling. These technologies have been used successfully in Europe. In some cases the opposition borders on the comical. Casino owner Sheldon Adelson said he is ‘morally’ opposed to internet gambling. It should be noted that most Las Vegas casino interests have realized the potential of internet gaming and are making preparations for eventual legalization. John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Player’s Alliance addressed Adelson’s concerns and stated “He does have young children, in their early teens, and he has raised this concern before. I think he does have some concerns there, but I think he’s somewhat misinformed. There are ways being used very effectively throughout Europe, where this is licensed and regulated, to keep children off Internet gaming sites.”

At the present time all indications are that internet bingo and poker players in the United States may have to wait a while longer before any federal legislation is passed.