The United States online gambling marketplace was discussed in earnest during this year’s GiGse Totally Gaming iGaming Conference in San Francisco, California. Three politicians added their opinions, including former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Brown admitted to “flip-flopping” on the Internet gambling issue “multiple times” in the 15 years he spent as Speaker of the California State Assembly. Provocative and even questionable at times, Brown was both a highlight and low point at the important Internet gaming event. The former politician’s concerns were that “Internet gambling is not capable of being regulated in the way that it meets be.” However, he admitted to recently traveling to Nevada to gamble, and has in the past on several occasions voted for legalizing online gambling, both nationwide, and as a state-regulated California industry.
FBI – Money Launderers Prefer Off-Line Activity
Former Nevada Governor (1989 to 1999) and Democrat Bob Miller pointed out Brown’s inability to adopt one side of the issue or the other when he stated, “I do appreciate your philosophical flexibility.” Miller went on to note that millions of Americans engage in Internet gambling activities, which are delivered by legitimate offshore providers. One of the complaints which Brown had with the current online gambling picture in the United States surrounds possible illegal money laundering by a criminal element. However, Miller said that the FBI has noticed that money launderers tend to stay off-line, preferring to handle their activities in person, with cash money. Multiple industry analysts commented that Brown simply was uninformed, and needed better information.
William Volk is the Chief Creative Officer of real money mobile gambling startup PlayScreen, and he was one of the GiGse iGaming Conference attendees who vehemently disagreed with former SF Mayor Brown. He pointed out that United Kingdom regulators easily and dependably use the latest in Internet technologies to verify whether a potential gambler is legally eligible to play or not. He also stated that transactions are monitored, and player identity and verification platforms are very stringent. Pennsylvania is one of 9 states pushing to join the small state-based US online gambling industry in the US, and former Pennsylvania Governor and Democrat Edward Rendell (2003 to 2011) questioned Brown’s information as well.
Rendell – Keep the Revenue at Home
He admitted openly that a small number of people can get addicted to online gambling, or off-line gambling for that matter. But he pointed out that when Pennsylvania residents leave the state to gamble and become addicted, they return their addictive behavior to the Keystone State but leave up to $4 billion in gambling revenue in nearby states where land-based and Internet gambling is legal. Multiple studies out of the United Kingdom, where virtual gambling has been legal for years, have shown that gambling addiction is a miniscule issue. And since millions of Americans gamble responsibly and legally online via established non-US, offshore-based websites, Rendell and other GiGse conference attendees agreed that the billions of dollars they spend should be staying here in the United States.
Pennsylvanis Owns 2nd Largest US Online Gambling Industry, Looking to Add Internet Gambling Format
Pennsylvania legalized gambling in specific brick-and-mortar formats, and now claims the second highest gambling revenue in the entire country. Rendell said that 20,000 direct and 25,000 to 30,000 indirect jobs have been created because of gambling industry. He went on to point out that it is his belief that property taxes are now lowered as a result of the tax revenue gambling has provided his state. He believes adding Internet gambling is a logical progression for those USA states which already offer lotteries and other forms of land-based wagering. Of the 9 states currently pushing aggressively for legalizing online gambling, California and Pennsylvania are the current front runners.