US Online Gaming Operators UniteBy: Adam Baker, Sunday January 30th 2011
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It has become evident that with the Republicans gaining the upper hand in the US midterm elections in November 2010, the online gaming industry will have to redouble its efforts and become more proactive in its fight for a legalized and regulated regime. Poker Players Alliance focuses only on poker and is more inclined to take the route that poker is a game of skill. iMEGA is a more reactive organization and is not involved in grassroots mobilization. Therefore some leading American online gambling operators have got together and founded The US Online Gaming Association (USOGA).
The objective of USOGA is to advocate for the legalization and regulation of online gaming in the States. It is being headed by Melanie Brenner, the former executive director of the Poker Voters of America. Speaking about the broad thrust of USOGA, Brenner acknowledged that the quest for a federal solution has failed and that the US market will have to be opened through the states.
The official launch meeting was held at the ICE expo. Brenner confirmed that PKR, Sportingbet and Secured American Games were the first three companies to commit financial and technical support to USOGA. Brenner added that she expects to announce the names of three or four big names in the next week as founder members. In fact a deadline of February 14 has been set for companies to commit financial support and become members of the executive committee of USOGA.
Malcolm Graham, chief executive of PKR, also spoke at the meeting. He said that the time was ripe for the industry to act and bringing everyone under one umbrella was the first step so that they could speak in a collective voice and deliver a consistent message. He cited the success of trade associations like the Remote Gaming Association (RGA) and European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) in Europe. In Europe too there is no common online gaming legislation but each country is moving ahead in its own way. The US states will have to follow this pattern. Representatives from 20 European leading online gaming operators and service providers were also present.
Another trade association of American online gaming operators was also announced at ICE. This was the American Institute for iGaming (AIIG), the objective of which has been stated as education and advocating for online gaming in America. The executive director of AIIG will be Bill Pascrell III. Incidentally Pascrell was the lead lobbyist for Senator Raymond Lesniak's successful online gaming bill of New Jersey. Indicating the path that AIIG will take, Pascrell said, "We are not just focusing on state level in the US, we are hoping to get federal legislation, but know there is a long way to go. We are focusing on the domino effect, New Jersey first, then other states."
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