The Digital Gaming & Lottery Policy Summit, organized by Mark Balestra and Sue Schneider, just finished up after two days of productivity and fun in Washington, DC.
This two day crash course on the online gaming situation in the US was a perfect opportunity for anyone interested in entering the US online gaming market and regulators to get together and discuss the past, present and future of the industry.
Day 1 included a keynote speech from popular Senator Raymond Lesniak who is doing his best to hook up New Jerseyans with sports gambling and online gambling within the next 12 months. Other topics discussed included the DOJ’s undefined position towards online gambling, the unlikely and preferable notion of federal regulation and the more likely but less preferable notion of state by state regulation.
Day 2 was split into two tracks in the morning, one for state lotteries and the other for the gaming professionals, lunch was served during Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)’s keynote speech and the afternoon focused on online gambling technology and more interactive discussions amongst attendees.
Barton’s speech over lunch was predictably well attended and as all US congressmen are brilliant at doing, Barton didn’t reveal anything new but made his bill sound fabulous and its passage imminent. He began the address by pointing out that everyone in the room was there because they work in the online gambling industry…that is, except for him. ”I just like to play online poker”, he said. Barton ran through what his bill entails, assured us that this bill has a chance to pass in the current congress and that the bill is limited to poker because “that’s its best shot to pass”. While some felt the speech was kind of fluffy, it was followed up by huge slices of incredible chocolate cake, so everyone was happy in the end.
Other interesting points covered throughout Day 2 include:
+Jeff Voyles recommended that the tribes should focus on getting into e-commerce and mobile first and then leverage that experience into online gambling. Tribal casinos have a very strong relationship with customers- stronger than the Vegas casinos, in fact- and offering that network non-gaming products online will serve as great building blocks for when online gaming is regulated in the US.
+Nigel Blower of Blowfish Consulting (best company name at the conference) suggested that if smaller states are concerned about online poker liquidity that they should start with offering games not requiring liquidity such as casino and scratch cards and then introduce games requiring liquidity such as poker and bingo if there is enough player volume.
+During an interesting presentation on what constitutes “cheating”, Dan Michalski of Pokerati pointed out that while poker bots have a bad name, its not really clear if the use of bots by operators can be considered cheating. For example, Vegas casinos use “prop players” to keep the games going, as in, these guys are hired by the casinos to gamble with you (who knew?!) so could/should bots be used for the same purpose?
+Dan Cypra of PocketFives emphasized the importance of forums and poker communities for identifying cheating online. A perfect example of this power in action is how 2+2 member KyleB posted about his ability to hack into the recently updated Bodog Network software and discovered a flaw in the software’s security.
+Paul Lauzon of Ipsos Reid revealed a variety of statistics illustrating the relationship between offline and online gamblers and the data supports that internet gaming will not take away from land based gambling. In fact, online opportunities will create synergies between the two forms of gambling.
+At the conclusion of his presentation on online gambling security issues, Hai Ng of Continent 8 recommended that regulators should tell operators WHAT they want from a security standpoint, let the operators figure out HOW to do it and then prove they have done it. Regulators should not get involve with HOW its done.
The last part of Day 2 was dedicated to interactive sessions between delegates discussing exactly how they should begin tackling the US market as it stands and in the future. Organizers Mark and Sue jumped right into the discussions and asked the crowd for feedback on how the event was structured and how things can be improved for next time, a nice personal touch from the eyes of the delegates. Everyone agreed that the duo did a great job with the DGLP Summit 2011 but there is one big piece of feedback for the next time…beers during the final interactive discussions!