According to the British newspaper, The Telegraph, U.K. gaming companies have been shelling out big bucks to grab the ears of legislators across the pond in the United States. A number of companies, including some of the top names in the industry, have been doing business with lobbying firms in the U.S. in an effort to get online gambling legalized and regulated in the States.
One of the companies, UC Group, has spent $5.23 million in lobbying fees over the last few years. UC Group provides online payment services, including back office and anti-money laundering services, for ten online gaming companies. The firm not only hopes that its clients will be able to expand their services into the U.S., but it is certainly looking to gain a foothold in the country itself. Since September 2008, UC Group has spent $2.31 million lobbying. The company made only $3 million in pre-tax profits last year, which goes to show how important it considers the American market.
“We are certain that our efforts will yield an open market for non-US based gaming operators”, said UC Group chief executive Kobus Paulsen to The Telegraph.
Three major players in the online gaming industry – PartyGaming, Sportingbet, and PokerStars – were singled out by the newspaper as having hired high-powered lobbying firms in the U.S. to forward their agendas on Capitol Hill. The founders of PartyGaming, Ruth Parasol and Russell De Leon, have themselves spent over $1.5 million on lobbying efforts. While another founder of PartyGaming, Anurag Dikshit, pled guilty in April to violating U.S. gambling laws and agreed to pay a $300 million fine, neither Parasol nor De Leon have done anything of the sort. It is not known if any of the money they have sent over to the U.S. is being used to help them avoid future prosecution. PartyGaming itself did agree to pay $105 million in fines for offering online poker and casino games to U.S. customers before the UIGEA was passed in the fall of 2006. In exchange, PartyGaming and its subsidiaries are exempt from prosecution. PartyGaming, including its flagship site, PartyPoker.com, was one of the first companies to withdraw from the U.S. when the UIGEA passed.
Paradise Poker owner Sportingbet, on the other hand, has spent $60,000 over the past year to aid in the “settlement of potential criminal charges related to online gambling.”
Not all UK gaming companies are as gung-ho about spending their hard earned money lobbying in the United States. Many feel that the battle to gain entry to the American market is one that they cannot win. While Senator Robert Menendez’s (D – NJ) recent bill, the Internet Poker and Games of Skill Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, is seen as a good thing to most internet poker players, many firms in the UK are scared by a specific clause. The clause lists reasons why an applicant for an online gaming license could be rejected. One of the reasons it states is if the applicant “…is delinquent in filing any applicable Federal or State tax return or in the payment of any applicable tax, penalty, addition to tax, or interest owed to a jurisdiction in which the applicant or other person operates or does business.”
Skeptics look at this clause and feel it is a way to exclude foreign operators from getting licenses because those foreign companies never paid taxes on the money they made from U.S. customers.
Gigi Levy, chief executive of Pacific Poker parent 888.com, also believes that the U.S. will keep foreign operators out. He simply feels that considering the U.S. felt it was acceptable to withdraw from its GATS commitments regarding gambling, the country will do whatever it wants when it comes to online gambling. If that means going against World Trade Organization rules, so be it.

Tight Poker Staff

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For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the best in class for poker site reviews, top online poker bonuses, strategy tips, poker news, and exclusive free poker content.  Consisting of a team of poker and gambling experts, we deliver the best online poker brand experience for players of all levels, from the fish to the sharks.
For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the best in class for poker site reviews, top online poker bonuses, strategy tips, poker news, and exclusive free poker content.  Consisting of a team of poker and gambling experts, we deliver the best online poker brand experience for players of all levels, from the fish to the sharks.