A New Look at Online Gambling Lobbying
June 14, 2010 (CAP News Wire) – As the stakes for regulating and legalizing Internet gambling get higher and higher, we’re seeing more reports of the enormous sums spent by the industry to lobby the government to create laws favorable to online casinos and Internet poker rooms — particularly in the U.S., but elsewhere, too.
When it comes to such lobbying, Harrah’s is often the first name mentioned. The Nevada-based casino giant (over ten billion in yearly revenue) is, by all reports, lobbying hard to get online gambling regulated, so it can get in the game. (The company has announced plans to do just that, along with hiring the appropriate personnel, long ago.)
“[Harrah’s] has built up a sturdy roster of firms to lobby on proposals to legalize Internet gambling,” writes LegalTimes.com. “Now, add Capitol Counsel to the list. The firm registered Harrah’s as a client on Monday, filing disclosure paperwork showing it will lobby on Internet gaming and taxes.”
“Harrah’s did not respond to a request for comment, but the company, which owns the World Series of Poker, has publicly supported legalizing Internet gambling.”
The influential American Gaming Association — of which Harrah’s is also a member — is itself investing big sums on lobbying iGaming legislation. The AGA spent “nearly $430,000 in the first quarter lobbying federal officials about online gambling regulation and enforcement and other issues,” reports the Associated Press.
“That’s more than the $376,000 it spent a year earlier and more than the $345,000 the group spent lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2009.”
The AGA’s members also include MGM Mirage, Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Bally.
And in an interesting addition to the story, it was recently revealed that part of MasterCard’s lobbying efforts included “Internet gambling regulation” (again according to the Associated Press) in a telling sign that it’s not just the online casino industry that’s opposing the UIGEA laws.
So what’s this all mean to casino affiliate marketing? It’s hard to say exactly how any new iGaming laws would change the Internet gambling landscape, but it’s largely assumed by observers that regulations on a state-by-state level (such as those currently being chased by New Jersey and California) would do more damage to affiliate marketing than widespread, federal laws such as those pursued by Harrah’s and other major casino groups. For starters, federal laws would probably mean less changes to the current gambling affiliate marketing business model, and would also result in a lot more high-tier brands to promote (such as Harrah’s itself).