U.S. Government Urged to Legalize Online Casino Gaming
Gambling firms MGM Mirage and Harrah’s Entertainment are increasing pressure on U.S. Congress to consider legalizing online casino gambling. The pressure by two of the world’s largest land-based gambling companies comes at the same time that legislators are seeking to tighten criminal penalties for online casino gambling. The gambling firms are in agreement that the best way to control the $12 billion online casino business – which is based overseas while drawing more than half its revenue from America – is to legalize, regulate and tax it.
Representatives from Harrah’s have already met with Senator John Ensign, a Nevada Republican, who is in favor of legalizing online casino gaming. Both firms, which according to Federal Election Commission records have contributed $900,000 to congressional candidates in this year’s elections, are pushing legislators to take a first step toward legalizing the online casino industry by creating a commission to study it. The move comes at the same time as the effort by two Virginia representatives, Bob Goodlatte, a Republican, and Rick Boucher, a Democrat, who have introduced legislation to force U.S. financial institutions to cooperate with authorities in shutting down the flow of cash to offshore based online casino sites.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department continues to investigate and prosecute online casino firms that accept funds from U.S. customers. On May 17, prosecutors in Washington announced money-laundering charges against two people, including an American, who operated an Internet betting parlor in Antigua that received $250 million in bets on sports betting. With U.S. companies excluded from the online market, the principal beneficiaries are European companies and unregulated online casino sites located in the Caribbean.