The American Gaming Association, the casino industry's biggest trade group, is struggling to reach a consensus on internet betting
, as its members take up divergent viewpoints. Some casino companies support federal regulation for it, while others want states to be able to regulate it (though maybe not Kentucky
); others, of course, want to see the blanket ban continue, fearful of anything that might let new competitors in to the market. The AGA's latest approach appears to be to support legislation to study whether to legalize online betting -- which, we're pretty sure, sounds about as wishy-washy as could be.
The facts surrounding online gambling in the US are already pretty clear: previous legislative efforts may have reduced online gambling, but they've also driven American bettors to largely unregulated services and forced them to use some other often-shady services to fund their activities -- since US banks are given the responsibility
to stop gambling sites' funding. The result is that gamblers keep up the same activity they were doing before, but are now exposed to more danger and risk, while US authorities are missing out on the chance to collect some taxes. This still seems pretty irresponsible, since gaming regulators in mature markets would argue that driving consumers into unregulated territory where they're not protected by laws and rules governing casinos isn't a great idea.
Meanwhile, the AGA's waffling isn't a surprise, since many of its members hate to see new competition in any form. But existing casino operators are, arguably, better placed than anyone to compete in new, highly regulated markets that don't require huge capital outlays on the scale of expensive new properties. Also, it's hard to understand how more competition for gambling dollars could hurt consumers, when competition might actually deliver them a number of significant benefits, particularly over gray-market services of questionable legality.