Operator talk: Education, education, education – the future of US iGaming

Operator talk: Education, education, education – the future of US iGaming

Monday, January 26, 2015 Totally Gaming

Jon C Porter, a former US Congressman and a supporter of the regulated gambling sector, believes the future of iGaming in the country is bright as long as the industry can educate the right people. Ahead of his appearance at ICE Totally Gaming next week, he spoke to TotallyGaming.com about the developments he expects in the US in the coming year.

 

Education is the key to the expansion of iGaming in the US, with policy makers often ignorant of the secure nature of online gambling sites.

That is the view of lobbyist and former Nevada congressman Jon C Porter, who is optimistic about the future of gambling in the US as long as the industry can unite and make its case to those who create laws within states and at a federal level.

Porter, president and chief executive of government affairs firm Porter Gordon Silver, told TotallyGaming.com: “Some law-makers have religious or moral reasons for opposing and that I certainly respect.

“However, the majority either have never even thought about iGaming or have unfounded concerns. I have heard senators concerned that iGaming can lead to an expansion of global terrorism.

“When I sit down with them with a laptop or iPad I can show them just how secure iGaming sites are, and to a person they are shocked to see it is the same technology that one might use if they were logging into their bank account.

“I think some policy makers surprise themselves. An elected official in one state told me that I was wasting my time meeting up with her - she told me her father was in law enforcement and that she was opposed to the expansion of gambling. However, I’ve now met with her three or four times.”

Porter, a Republican Nevada State Senator for eight years and in the US Congress from 2003 to 2009, believes that with the safety of the technology established, politicians then need to be told how iGaming can benefit their constituents or their budgets. He believes that in some states this is a key reason why there must be a link between online sites and existing land-based gambling venues. 

He added: “It is a fundamental American principle that each state and tribal nation should make their own decisions when it comes to self-determination and economic well-being.

“Success in iGaming means that casinos remain strong, taxes can be raised and jobs are saved. It is value added to bricks and mortar businesses.

 “The other major point is that millions of people are gambling with unregulated sites. These sites are actually competing against the regulated iGaming operators and the bricks and mortar casinos. These operators have none of the safety and security elements that come with a regulated industry.”

With the arguments well rehearsed on both sides, 2015 and 2016 will be key years for iGaming in the US. The two-year legislative cycle begins afresh, with opponents in Congress ready to build on the progress they made in almost adding a ban to budget legislation in December.

Porter suggests that gambling supporters have at the moment, pretty much given up on pushing for federal laws that would legalise iGaming and are now more interested in protecting what they have in Nevada and New Jersey while also helping to push the debate in other states.

“The debate is accelerating in California, New York, Illinois and West Virginia,” Porter said. “It is too early to say what will happen within the two-year cycle, but many states are seriously looking at iGaming as a way to balance their budgets by helping to strengthening the gaming industry. 

“I’m very optimistic about the future of iGaming. The facts and security are on the side of those wanting to license and regulate iGaming.

“I was delighted to see how the iGaming industry united in the face of real legislative pressure at the end of 2014, and we were ultimately successful because of it. I hope we use that momentum and continue to build upon that in 2015 and beyond.”

Jon C Porter will speak on the panel, The future of federal and state legislation in the US, at ICE Totally Gaming on Monday, February 2. For more information, visit www.icetotallygaming.com.

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