U.S. lobbying details make interesting reading

The online gambling industry information publication Interactive Gaming News extracted some interesting information from U.S. mandatory lobbying disclosures by gambling organisations this week, delving into the submissions made in compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

The full list can be seen at http://igamingnews.com/index.cfm?page=artlisting&tid=11334 and covers some $2.5 million spent lobbying in the U.S. in Q4 of 2008. Read in conjunction with the recent announcement by the Poker Players Alliance that it is to spend $3 million on lobbying in 2009, the list makes for interesting reading.

Major organisations such as the PPA, the American Gaming Association, the American Greyhound Track Operator’s Association, Americans for Tax Reform, the Christian Coalition of America and others were active, along with banking, credit card and offshore licensing jurisdictions.

Prominent among the goals of lobbyists were issues surrounding HR 2046, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act and its contentious regulations, with lobbying both for and against its provisions.

The American Banker’s Association's $91 905 lobbying expenditure was part of a total of $1 930 000 spent by the bankers in in-house lobbying efforts across 21 broad issues including:

"HR 2046, Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 (all provisions); HR 5767, to prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from proposing, prescribing or implementing any regulation under subchapter IV of chapter 53 or title 31, United States Code, and for other purposes (Internet Gambling Act regulations); HR 6870, Payments System Protection Act of 2008; Proposal to Amend Section 10b of Securities Exchange Act of 1934 with respect to aiding and abetting liability”

The American Gaming Association spent some $398 000 that was dominated by the $368 000 in in-house lobbying efforts conducted by Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Walton M. Chalmers, D. Brett Hale and Dorothy M. Jackson for:

“Internet Gaming -- HR 6870, Payments System Protection Act of 2008; HR 2046, Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007; HR 2140, To provide for a study by the National Academy of Sciences to identify the proper response of the United States to the growth of internet gambling; HR 2610, to amend subchapter IV of chapter 53 of title 31 Unites States Code, and section 1084 or such code to clarify the applicability of such provisions to games of skill”

An additional $20 000 from the AGA went to Fierce, Isakowitz and Blalock for:
“HR 2046: Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007; HR 2140: Internet Gambling Study Act; HR 2607: Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act of 2007"

And a further $20 000 to the Paul Laxalt Group for two broad issues, including:
“Legislation relating to the gaming and tourism industries. HR 2140: a bill to provide for a study of National Academy of Sciences to identify the proper response of the United States to the growth of Internet gambling. HR 2046: A bill to amend title 31, United States Code, to provide for the licensing of Internet gambling facilities by the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and for other purposes”

PartyGaming major shareholders Ruth Parasol and husband Russ DeLeon paid $75 000 to Sharp and Barnes, LLP to lobby on the “Legality of Internet Gaming and UIGEA”, whilst UK gambling group Sportingbet forked out $20 000 to Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal LLP for: “Settlement of potential issues related to online gambling.”

The article constitutes an interesting study of the interaction between American business and the taxpayers' political representatives, especially concerning the deeply divided opinions regarding the online gambling sector in the United States.

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