Pity poor Geoff Freeman, the recently installed head of the American Gaming Association (AGA). A day after a panel of industry experts at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas voiced the near unanimous opinion that online gambling legislation passed by individual US states had rendered moot any efforts to pass a federal online poker bill, Freeman was nonetheless valiantly talking up the AGA’s party line that federal legislation was the only thing that stood between American consumers and anarchy.
Sounding a bit like a VHS tape salesman in a digital video streaming world, Freeman pledged that the AGA would continue to lobby federal legislators on the need for an over-arching regulatory environment. That said, Freeman acknowledged that “the environment for getting a bill done is not there.” (On Monday, MGM Resorts’ Alan Feldman described the lack of federal progress as a tragedy but suggested the feds had voluntarily “abdicated” their role in the online gambling regulation-crafting process.)
Later, Freeman told the Associated Press that the land-based casino business offered a preview of how irksome a state-by-state online paradigm could be for AGA members. “We want to be regulated. However, there are places that it crosses the line and really affects innovation and makes us less competitive. Each new state that [authorizes casino gambling] feels like they have to turn the screws a little bit tighter than the one before.” While the lack of national regulatory uniformity is obviously not their preference, Freeman vowed that the AGA’s membership wouldn’t be “left behind” as the US online gambling market continued to roll out on a state-by-state basis.
Freeman used his G2E keynote address to unveil some new stats courtesy of H2 Gambling Capital, which tagged 2006 as the year US online gambling spending peaked at $5b, of which $1.6b was spent on online poker. Since that year, which saw the passage of the federal UIGEA legislation, spending totalled a mere $2.6b in 2012, of which just $219m was generated by poker. The 2012 total gambling spend numbers were off $200m from 2011, for which H2 suggests Black Friday was largely to blame.
Speaking of coming up short, the AGA’s efforts to piggyback the AGA’s message onto next month’s release of online poker/killer crocodile movie Runner, Runner have also hit a wall, as theaters have declined to run an AGA-sponsored advertisement (viewable below) in tandem with the film. (Next time, try a riff on the ‘let’s all go to the lobby’ promo, like ‘let’s all go to Congress and lobby’ sung by playing cards and chips rather than candy bars and bags of popcorn.) Undaunted, the AGA intends to “get the ad out there” via placement on sites like IMDB.com and ABCNews.com, as well as its own newly created site – and we’re not making this up – OnlineVillians.com, the banner on which reads: “Sometimes movie villains are real…” And sometimes fairy tale characters are real, much like the industry association that cried wolf (while bored session violinists scratched out some scary background music before breaking for lunch) …