24 October 2006

by Chris Krafcik

H.R. 4411 – David Carruthers – Money laundering – Aiding and abetting – United States Congress – Bill Frist – Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 – Prohibition – Exodus

These and other words and expressions have permeated the idiom shared by the I-gaming industry, serving as palpable reminders of long-standing legal battles and financial woe, of furtive politics and changing interests. Following the enactment of the U.S. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, most financially transparent public companies have flipped the switch on their U.S.-facing operations, while others wait and watch as the 270-day prescription period passes.

Private companies, meanwhile, have been the subject of much discussion and speculation. Reports and rumors are circulating about the industry going “underground,” that the new law will do little more than expel regulated, publicly traded companies, clearing the way for private gambling companies and offshore banks to gobble up U.S. dollars on untraceable transactions. Other reports suggest further that the U.S. legislation will, in time, render itself moot after billions in difficult-to-trace “financial instruments” find their way into crooked, criminal claws.

“It leaves an opening for some of the more unscrupulous companies coming in from unregulated places,” said Frank Catania, past director of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement and president of Catania Consulting Group.

Many entrenched within the I-gaming community are drawing parallels between the I-gaming ban and the U.S. prohibition spanning 1920 to 1933, where, in 1919, the Anti-Saloon League, in collaboration with other parties, pushed the Eighteenth Amendment through Congress.

“You saw how the U.S. regulated booze,” said 888 CEO John Anderson at this year’s European I-gaming Conference and Expo (EiG) CEO panel discussion in Barcelona, Spain. “That shows you what they’re like.”


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