Focused advocacy for iGaming industry has lacked in state capitols

A New Online Gambling Trade Group Will Try To Give iGaming The Push It’s Been Lacking

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The legalization of online gambling in the United States has hit a figurative wall in recent years, ever since New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware approved iGaming in their states.

A new trade group — specializing in representing the online gaming industry in the US — will try to give such efforts a boost.

iGaming and iDEA

The iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA) announced its formation this week. It’s the first trade association to exclusively represent the interest of companies in the iGaming space in the US.

Its membership features more than 20 gaming operators, online payment processors and other companies related to the iGaming industry, including:

  • Tropicana
  • Golden Nugget
  • Resorts
  • Amaya
  • Gamesys
  • GVC
  • IGT
  • NYX
  • PaddyPower / Betfair
  • Pala Interactive
  • PaySafe
  • Vantiv

The group will advocate for all versions of iGaming, including online poker, bingo, casinos, sports betting and lotteries.

The group’s first act: Publishing a white paper, entitled “Economic Impact of New Jersey Online Gaming: Lessons Learned.”

The New Jersey iGaming case study

The white paper makes its case for other states to pursue online gambling by presenting the example of New Jersey.

The NJ online casino industry has been an unquestioned success since its launch in 2013, helping turn around gaming revenue for Atlantic City casinos. The industry is now generating more than $20 million a month while also putting money in state coffers.

The New Jersey example has provided plenty of benefits for the state and its casinos, with little in the way of negatives, according to the research. From its inception through 2016, the paper found that New Jersey iGaming has directly and indirectly generated a grand total of:

  • $998.3 million in output
  • 3,374 jobs
  • $218.9 million in wages to employees, and
  • $124.4 million in tax revenue to state and local governments (including $83.5 million in iGaming taxes).

Meanwhile, there has been no increase in underage gambling, money laundering, fraud or cheating as a result of the legalization of NJ iGaming.

“New Jersey iGaming is also a success from a regulatory perspective, with some of the strictest iGaming regulation protocols in the world,” said Jeff Ifrah, a leading gaming attorney and one of iDEA’s founding members. “These regulations guarantee that operators are accountable, and that players can trust that they will be protected.”

You can read the entire report here.

NJ’s success can be replicated elsewhere

New Jersey does not have to be an outlier in US iGaming, according to iDEA.

“New Jersey’s experience provides valuable lessons for other US states considering iGaming legalization in the future,” Ifrah said. “The state’s operating environment and regulatory structure provides a portable model which can be modeled by other jurisdictions, bringing much-needed jobs and tax revenue.”

But since NJ legalized iGaming in 2013, no state has joined it with legal casino or poker games.

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What’s next for the iGaming push?

The status quo is poised to change, however. Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois have all seriously considered iGaming this year. Whether any of them will ultimately enact a new law this year remains unknown.

Could new laws result — or happen more quickly — with a focused effort from the iGaming industry? The idea that online gambling is a good thing for states and casinos — with little in the way of downside — is a compelling narrative. It’s already going on via unlicensed, offshore sites that Americans can easily access, anyway.

That narrative just needs someone to tell it, to help educate lawmakers and policymakers. The American Gaming Association has ranged from against iGaming to neutral in recent years; it doesn’t appear that it will be the one to advance the industry’s interests.

The new iGaming trade group could fill that vacuum. And its existence and advocacy could ultimately help push online gambling legislation across the finish line.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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