The land based Las Vegas casino operators who were originally lobbying for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006 now seem to be in favor of regulating online gambling.
Casino giant Harrah's Entertainment spent $405,087 in the first quarter of 2009 as a registered lobbyist on getting support for the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act sponsored by US Rep Barney Frank, which aims to license and regulate Internet gambling and would enable Americans to safely gamble online.
Harrah's Entertainment's Senior Vice President Jan Jones believes in setting up a strong regulatory frame for Internet gambling to prevent fraud, money laundering, and protecting children. "We really believe this industry already exists, it just exists in a Wild West setting.", says Jones.
Federal regulation could enable Harrah's and other US companies to take part in the currently unregulated online gambling environment, where Americans are nevertheless already spending $6 billion annually according to Jones. In addition to casino properties, Harrah's also operates the World Series of Poker brand, which should benefit from passing of this bill.
Besides spending cash, Harrah's has also hired brains to help this cause: Tony Podesta, who has previously lobbied for Wal-Mart and Sallie Mae, and his brother John Podesta, an adviser to President Barack Obama.
MGM Mirage has expressed support for the general idea, but are unsure of whether to support Frank's new bill, stating that their exceutives have not yet studied it. There has been some opposition from other parties for having the federal goverment oversee the Internet gambling industry, but Jones said Harrah's will support this since regulating at the state level would be nearly impossible.
"The whole nature of Internet gaming is that people can be on all over the world," Jones said. "It makes much more sense to have a federal regulatory oversight, with an opt-out by the states, which this bill provides."
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