Patrick Basham, Founder of The Democracy Institute, is the co-author of “Gambling: A Safe Bet”, a book designed to educate the public on how and why gambling is actually good for you. Basham is a proud libertarian who openly shares his insights on issues around the world involving politics, “controversial” industries such as gambling and alcohol and more.
Basham stopped through London a few weeks ago and I welcomed the opportunity to chat with him about three hot issues in the gambling industry today, the upcoming US Presidential election, the aftermath of Brexit and the potential of Bitcoin.
US Presidential Election
As an American citizen of almost forty years of age, I can confirm the 2016 Trump/Clinton election is for sure the most entertaining form of US politics I’ve ever lived through. While entertaining, its also a bit scary on a number of levels and I asked Basham his opinion on how the election of either candidate could impact the gambling industry.
“I still think anything could happen, either Clinton or Trump could win, I’ve always thought it would be very, very close. It remains that way and I expect it to be a very long night on election night, maybe the night will never end, for weeks or months”, he joked.
“Does it matter if either candidate wins? I think it does. If Clinton wins, she doesn’t really have a strong sense of where to go on the gambling industry related issues. But if she wins, there’s a good chance the democrats will take back the senate. If they do, its probably neither good nor bad for the industry because there are democrats who have always been more inclined to let things work for the industry and others who have been more concerned about some of what I view are the “myths” surrounding gambling. Its up in the air if she wins”, he said.
He went on to add Trump doesn’t have a problem with the gambling industry, but is he too tied to casinos, Basham wonders?
“Is [Trump] too old-school traditional gambling industry? Does he see the future of online, etc, etc? To be decided, but I think it would be good news for the industry in the sense that you’re starting out with someone who gets it, with someone who gets the business, all of that. Also if he wins, the republicans will almost certainly keep the senate, which is good news and bad news because they’re going to be inclined to support him on many issues, particularly economic ones. But of course the long standing, the most inbuilt opposition to the industry has come from the socially conservative republicans in congress. There will still be plenty of them and they won’t be looking to help, they’ll be looking to hurt in all senses”, Basham said.
Sounds like the outcome of the election will certainly be a “watch this space” type of situation for the gambling industry, so all we can do is wait and see.
In my opinion, Basham holds a very reasonable outlook on how Brexit will potentially impact the gambling industry, in particular the online-focused companies. I would also think his response can actually be applied to any industries operating in or offering their services to the UK, not just gambling companies.
“I think medium to long term, the industry in the UK and in Europe will be ok because what has to happen is that the UK has to sit down with the EU and with a host of other countries and figure out what kind of multi-lateral and bi-lateral agreements they can make on trade and intellectual property and all the rest of it”, Basham said.
He added, “Just take the UK for the moment, if the UK makes good deals for itself, then after the initial teething problems, it should be fine. But if they don’t, well probably not. So its about the people involved, its about the people that will literally be on either side of the table, on the EU side and on the UK side”.
Basham does not see any reason why the gambling industry in the UK or the EU should be hit hard long term because its in everyone’s self-interest for everything to work and keep working. In fact, Basham was able to identify some potential positive outcomes of Brexit for the UK.
“If you want to look at it as glass half full, [the UK] have so many opportunities for bi-lateral deals or deals beyond the EU, that whether its trade in the normal sense, or whether its over sorting things out with gambling arrangements and treaties and legislation, there’s the potential to improve the situation because the UK is now looking to make up for what on paper she’s going to lose”, he said.
“So if smart, sensible people are the ones doing the negotiating, I think everyone can relax. But sure, you’ve got to hold your breath for a while yet”, he added.
We at CalvinAyre.com believe Bitcoin and crypto-currencies in general are going to change the world and the technology that powers them, Blockchain, is the most innovative advancement since the internet. After spending the first part of our chat on political and government related issues, it was nice to switch gears and speak with Basham about the potential of a technology that doesn’t require the government at all.
“Long term I’m very optimistic. Philosophically I’m a libertarian, so I love on a personal level the fact there’s an increasing opportunity for the government to simply be unnecessary and I do think that the industry and individuals can police themselves, things like self-regulation. Again, its in everyone’s self-interest to make this work”, he said.
“And what we’re seeing with Bitcoin and with other things is we’re seeing how innovation can, if its allowed, drive the marketplace and drive it largely in what I think are positive directions”, he added.
Basham believes Bitcoin and the concept of crypto-currencies are the future, but there will always be politicians and regulators who think they have to control it by trying to stop it, control it, or control it and somehow make money off it.
“Its all big picture positive and its very encouraging on many levels…we’re not going to arrive there tomorrow, but we’ll get there as long as we persevere”, he said.