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WSOP host Harrah’s now a lobbying champion for internet gambling

Jun 21, 2010
Harrah's

Not so long ago, Harrah’s Entertainment was one of the most vocal detractors of regulating online gambling sites. Today, however, they’re rapidly becoming a force for full legalization of Internet gaming in America. In fact, Harrah’s will be among the most visible pro-online gambling lobbyists in Washington beginning next month.

Harrah’s Entertainment is of course best known for the Las Vegas-based Harrah’s Hotel and Caesar’s Palace, while ever gaining in household name recognition thanks to its sponsorship of the World Series of Poker event. Back in 2006, Harrah’s was a chief player in getting the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the law which imposes serious restrictions on playing online in the United States, passed as part of the Safe Port Act.

With the economy tanking in 2008 and 2009 while profits steadily eroded, Harrah’s has performed an about-face on their opposition to the gambling online. The first major step was in hiring former Party Gaming CEO Mitch Garber to head up its newly formed “interactive gaming division,” followed by the launching of its own website affiliated with the World Series of Poker – at which U.S. players are not allowed to play.

But last week saw the biggest indication yet that Harrah’s is exuding effort into overturning UIGEA and getting more rational laws regarding online gambling in the U.S. as the company hired the lobbying firm Capitol Counsel to plead the casino giant’s case on Capitol Hill. In 2010, Harrah’s has already spent nearly $1 million in lobbying efforts.

Speculation has it that Harrah’s expanded lobbying efforts are in advance of Congressional hearings scheduled for July on legislation proposed by Rep. Barney Frank that would overturn UIGEA. The Nevada Gaming Control Board is also reportedly investigating the relationship between gaming provider 888 and Harrah’s for possible violations of state and federal law.

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Gambling Online: Recommendations for US Players

Jun 07, 2010
US Players

Internet gambling in the United States has received quite a lot of media attention lately. Earlier this month, an old bill from 2006 passed into law – it’s called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and its aim is to make it more difficult for Americans to gamble online. The new law does not make online gambling in the US illegal. In fact, there are dozens of online casinos accepting US players, along with a wide range of excellent poker rooms, bingo halls, and sportsbooks that let US players sign up and gamble.

The only place where US players might run into problems is banking. The UIGEA essentially goes after American banks, forcing them to block credit and debit card transactions that involve online gambling. This leaves fewer options open to American players, but fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to get money to and from online casinos and other gambling sites.

Most solutions involve alternative internet banking services called e-wallets. These online gambling payment methods act as liaisons between players and gambling sites, taking money via credit or debit card from players then transferring it on their behalf to an online casino account. There are several of these banking services that accept US players, including eWalletXpress and UseMyWallet. They are the fastest and easiest way for American players to make deposits and withdrawals with online casinos or similar sites.

The easiest way to go about things is to first find an online gambling site that accepts US players, then after creating a new account there, talk with the customer support staff (many sites offer live chat services) and ask them to point out which payment methods they offer work well for players in the United States. Often, customer service representatives will be able to walk players through the whole process to help them fund their account quickly and easily.

At the end of the day, the hardest step is deciding where to sign up. A good place to start is this online gambling directory where players can read reviews of online casinos or other sites that accept US players. Sites like these are backed by many years of experience, and have a good understanding of what players are looking for. Remember, the US government is working hard to figure out the best way to open up the country’s online gambling industry, so it’s only a matter of time until things get a lot easier. Until then, enjoy the many great sites that still accept US players – good luck, and we hope you win!

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UIGEA blues: Is online gambling legal in the United States?

Jun 03, 2010
UIGEA Sign

On June 01, 2010, American gambling laws changed. An old bill from 2006 called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) went into full effect, forcing US banks and credit companies to stop processing transactions to and from online casinos and other internet gambling sites. The law represents an attempt to put a stop to online gambling in the US.

The reason for this round-about approach to the issue of internet gambling is simple: an all-out ban would be completely unenforceable. While American companies are absolutely not allowed to offer online gambling services, there are plenty of countries around the world that do offer gambling over the internet, and many of these foreign-based online casinos accepting US players. While the American government doesn’t like this, they can’t stop it directly, simply because these websites operate in other countries where American authorities have no jurisdiction.

The UIGEA is therefore a rather feeble attempt to slow down gamblers. It has been a long time coming, and everyone connected to the industry has been preparing for it since it was first announced in 2006. The initial announcement had a big effect, driving some online casino software providers out of the American market. A few stayed, however, leaving players with a decent selection of sites where they can sign up and gamble online.

The biggest issue now is banking. US players will find it difficult, if not impossible, to use their credit or debit cards to deposit money directly into an account at an online gambling site. Instead, they simply make indirect deposits – there are alternative banking methods that re-route funds, taking money from the player then passing it on to the gambling site (and vice versa when it comes time to collect winnings). US players have already been relying upon these alternative online gambling payment methods for several years.

At the end of the day, the UIGEA does little to prevent US players from gambling online. One thing it most certainly does not do is to ban internet gambling. Despite what the media says, online gambling in the United States is not illegal. While certain individual states do have laws against gambling in general, players enjoy some leeway with the system, since the internet creates questions about jurisdiction. US lawmakers seem to be moving slowly towards the regulation of internet gambling, but it could be a few years off – until then, Americans continue to enjoy online poker, internet casino games, even bingo and sports betting, all without breaking the law.

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Playtech Software has now 10 years of Online Gaming Excellence

Apr 27, 2010
playtech

Playtech is one of the world’s largest producers of online gaming software. For a decade, the company has been creating electronic games and online casino platforms for gambling providers all around the world. They have remained on the cutting edge of the industry throughout their tenure, and have developed a reputation for creativity and innovation that up-and-coming gaming software producers strive to match.

Playtech was founded in 1999, during the early years of the internet. They were not the first software company to enter the world of online gambling, so they spend a couple of years getting their feet wet before jumping in completely. In 2001, after two years of research and development, the first Playtech-powered internet casino was launched. Their software began to receive rewards right from the start, which was a huge incentive to continue their efforts.

By 2003, Playtech was already working to broaden the horizons of online gambling with the release of the world’s first Live Game system. This unique take on internet gambling made use of live video feeds of real dealers manipulating real gambling equipment. The video was then digitally incorporated into electronic casino games, creating a unique meld of online and offline gambling.

In 2006, Playtech was made public, and its shares were admitted to the London Stock Exchange. This was a time of great expansion for the company, despite complications introduced by the new UIGEA bill in the United States, which forced Playtech out of the American market. The company took the blow in stride, and simply continued to expand, branching out into related markets like online bingo and internet poker. Today, Playtech stands as one of the forerunners in the field of online gambling.

Playtech’s software gives players access to more than 140 real-money casino games. These range all across the board, from casino classics like poker, blackjack, and roulette to dozens of different video poker slot machines, each with its own theme and style. Some of their more unique games include Progressive Jackpot titles with collective prize pools that can grow into the millions, and Live Games that put a unique twist on the concept of online gambling. Playtech also hosts what might well be the most expensive slot game in existence – their 50-payline Thrill Seekers slot comes with a colorful carnival theme, and costs up to $50,000 for a single spin.

While Playtech-powered casinos cannot currently accept US players, legislation regarding online gambling in the US is on the verge of change, so things may look very different a year from now. Playtech has not suffered from the lack of exposure in the US, and is likely to embrace any changes that may come along.

In the meantime, Playtech stands as the world’s largest publically-traded provider of online casino software. Today, a full 80% of their employers work in research and design – a strong testament to their desire for innovation. The company’s motto is “Source of success” – it’s bold, and maybe even a little bit pretentious, but it certainly is appropriate.

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