Online gambling executives and industry observers alike are asking whether a specific clause contained in two legislative proposals aimed at legalising Internet poker and gambling in the USA are signalling a protectionist intent on the part of future US regulators.
Online gambling legalisation proposals by Senator Robert Menendez (online poker) and Congressman Barney Frank (online gambling) both contain the potentially discriminatory clause, which allows the US Treasury to reject applicants who have failed to file "...a federal or state tax return…owed to a jurisdiction in which the applicant operates or does business.”
Opinions are split on the implications of the clause; some feel that it is a clear indication that any legalisation in the United States will result in only American operators getting the lcensing green light, whilst others feel that the inclusion is a political ploy designed to appease possible opponents of the proposals. Others still point out that there are a number of ways that companies outside the United States could structure a US presence that would pass muster.
Major non-US operators have different views, too. Gigi Levy, CEO of 888.com is on record as saying that any US legalisation will restrict licenses to American companies. Party Gaming, which recently cleaned its US pre-UIGEA slate with a massive "settlement" payment to the US authorities, appears to think otherwise and has revealed that it intends to continue US lobbying efforts.
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