Pocket change

US legislators considering Congressman Barney Frank's renewed assault on the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act may be given pause for thought by a new analysis of the potential taxability of online gambling in the United States just published by top international accounting group PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The study estimates that the US could raise nearly $52 billion in revenue over the next decade by lifting a three-year-old ban on Internet gambling and taxing the activity instead, reports the Reuters news agency.

"There is a dramatic need to have a regulated system that protects American consumers. Right now, it's the Wild West," Jeffrey Sandman, a spokesman for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, told Reuters on Wednesday.

The latest PricewaterhouseCoopers' estimate is about 22 percent higher than it was in 2007 because U.S. online gambling has grown despite the ban, Sandman said.

The accounting firm's study was specifically done at the behest of UC Group, an online payment service company that would benefit from U.S. action to legalise Internet gambling.

Online gambling advocates hope the U.S. government's need for new revenue in the aftermath of huge bailout and stimulus packages will boost chances for Congress to replace the UIGEA with new measures to regulate and tax online gambling.

Reuters reports that the added threat of a possible European Union trade challenge in the World Trade Organisation could improve the Frank bill's prospects this year; the Remote Gaming Association in the UK has complained to the European Commission, accusing the U.S. Justice Department of singling out European online gambling companies like PartyGaming and 888.com for prosecution while allowing U.S. companies to operate freely (see previous InfoPowa reports). The complaint triggered an investigation, the results of which are imminent.

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