GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 18 - October 2011

Fed or State? – The Great U.S. iGaming Regulation Debate iMEGA’s Joe Brennan and the PPA’s John Pappas go mano a mano here’s been plenty of buzz in recent weeks and months about the inevita- bility of regulation of Internet gam- bling – and more specifically Internet poker – in the United States. But despite lots of talk by multiple state legislators and members of Congress, the reality is that most of the debate has ended with a decision to continue the debate at a later date. Washington, D.C., seemed poised to be the first to offer Internet gambling to its citizens after the city council included a provision that would allow the lottery to offer Internet gambling to people within the district in its annual budget. But scandal regard- ing how and why Councilman Michael A. Brown introduced the provision (he has been paid well by a firm with an interest in seeing online gambling proliferate in the U.S.) has created plenty of doubt as to whether the plan will go forward. Intrastate Internet poker seemed to have plenty of support in the California legislature this summer, but Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said, “Significant, unresolved issues remain,” and shelved the idea for this year. In New Jersey, state Senator Ray Lesniak has in- troduced a bill that would regulate intrastate on- line gambling that is almost identical to a bill that passed the state legislature last year but was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie. Christie hasn’t changed his position publicly, so it’s hard to say why Lesniak thinks things will be different this time around. And at the federal level, while two bills that would regulate the industry are open for debate in the House, neither is likely to even have a shot at a committee hearing, let alone see a full House vote. So the focus has been shifted to the “debt super committee,” which is tasked with cutting deficits by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Some have argued that the roughly $40 billion that could be made by regulating and taxing the Internet poker industry would be a good place to start. (Sadly, that only gets them 1/30th of the way there.) To sort out this mess, and show us the best way for- ward, we’ve asked two leaders in the fight to have a debate via e-mail on the topic. Joe Brennan, the chairman of the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA), has been one of the main proponents of legislation in New Jersey, while John Pappas, the Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), has been leading the fight for federal regulation of online poker. T