October 22, 2009 (PAP Newswire) — As the December 1st deadline for UIGEA compliance in the United States gets uncomfortably close, some figures in the political and online gambling worlds are scrambling to get the laws delayed, permanently or even just temporarily.
But, at the risk of taking a slightly negative perspective, those efforts don’t seem to have much hope. As Matthew Kredell writes at PokerNews.com, “It’s time for people to lower their expectations about when licensed and regulated Internet poker will be available in the United States. It’s not going to be this year. It probably won’t be next year, but it will likely happen eventually — at the government’s pace.”
“In 2010, it will be an election year,” agrees the Mrbonus blog. “Many Democrats who won their seats in the last election did so by narrow margins in usually conservative areas. Republicans hope to chop away at the Democratic Majority. It’s unlikely that these Congressmen with tentative holds on their seats will support a controversial topic when it could be held against them in the campaign. No matter how unfair an allegation, no politician wants to face a television ad stating that he or she wants to make gambling available to children.
“Perhaps an opportunity to make some headway in Congress might come in 2010 before re-election campaigns begin. However, it’s likely some economic issues from this session of Congress will spill over to next year and, again, take precedent. … So, theoretically, we’re now looking at 2011. And even when a licensing and regulation bill does go before a vote of the full Congress, it may take a few tries to get it through.”
That seems pretty much to be the case. In the United States, it is absolutely necessary for the UIGEA to be overturned and to remove the false stigma of illegality to online gambling. But, knowing that probably won’t happen this or even next year, many online gambling operators have already moved to protect themselves, by blocking access to their sites to any and all U.S. traffic.
The day when it’s no longer necessary to block out U.S. online gamblers will be the day that the industry, and Internet gaming affiliates worldwide, can open up a huge new market and expand their businesses (and profit margins) in an enormous fashion. But those looking to eventually tap into the U.S. market would be wiser to plan for the long term, and set their expectations accordingly.
“In the next 5-to-10 years, I’ll be very surprised if there’s not universally available and regulated access to iGaming in the U.S.,” iMEGA chairman Joe Brennan Jr has stated. “But it’s going to take time. Everyone wants this to move at Internet speed, but it will move at government speed.”
So what can affiliates do in the meantime? Continue to reach out to their local representatives and let them know in no uncertain terms that the online gambling ban is bad for the economy and hypocritical in a country that boasts of its personal freedoms. And then continue to work on plans for marketing to the U.S. audience, to be ready when that opportunity presents itself … eventually.