In what could either be a brilliant move foretelling of better days in the future – or a valiant effort that has no market to serve – three of the premier gaming research and marketing services firms in the industry have joined forces, presumably to service the American market.
It was announced this morning that the three companies – the United Kingdom’s based H2 Gambling Capital and Gaming Edge Associates and the state of New Jersey’s Spectrum Gaming Group – have united their forces and knowledge of the global gaming industry to form Global iGaming Advisors (GiGA). The company will be mainly focusing on something that isn’t in action at this time; what GiGA is calling the “soon-to-open” United States internet gaming market, which would include poker.
“Our partnership brings together our gambling knowledge and expertise from both the European online and U. S. retail markets,” stated Anton Bell, a partner with Gaming Edge Associates. “We are excellently positioned to advise clients looking to develop their online business, especially with the regulatory changes expected in the United States.”
Michael Pollock, Managing Director of Spectrum Gaming Group, echoed Bell’s statements, including the pronouncement of changes in the regulatory nature of internet gaming in the United States. “Our growing U. S. client base welcomes the expertise that H2 and Gaming Edge bring, especially their hands-on experience working with many of the leading online operators,” Pollock said. “Our network of longstanding relationships with U. S. land-based operators, lottery directors and legislators enables us to connect clients with the right people, informed and equipped with the knowledge to make the right business decisions.”
The bright discussions from the individuals behind GiGA could be knowledgeable or just fanciful notions in the current landscape. Still fresh on the minds of many in the online poker industry are the April 15 “Black Friday” indictments by the U. S. Department of Justice against the three leading online poker operations in the industry. The indictments – and the resulting withdrawal of the online sites from the American market – have ushered in the darkest period in the history of the U. S. online gaming market.
The news of the GiGA venture comes on the heels of an announcement over last weekend that the American Gaming Association is helming an attempt at writing new legislation for online poker in the United States.
It is expected that this new legislation, which would focus on the legalization and regulation of online poker only, should be completed within the next month. The bill was in discussion by members of the AGA, which represents the major land based casinos in the U. S., and select members of the U. S. Congress. After the completion of the writing of the bill, there are rumors that it could be in front of Congressional committees as soon as the middle of next month.
One of the key tenets of the legislation would be the ability for states to opt out of the national plan. Frank Fahrenkopf, the president of the American Gaming Association, told CardPlayer magazine that, “I have a hard time understanding (why states would opt out), other than California and Florida, where you are going to have enough liquidity and players that would really make an intrastate poker site worth it.” California, with 37 million residents, is the largest state in the U. S. and Florida ranks fourth with 18 million. Both have entertained the ideas of opening an intrastate poker network, but legislation has failed in both states.
Legislation in the U. S. Congress to regulate the online poker industry has seemingly never gotten off the ground. Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank proposed regulatory legislation in 2010 and Nevada Senator Harry Reid attempted last minute legislation but, when the 111th Congress ended in December, those efforts died without ever facing a vote. The current Congress, with a split between Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the House, has not put forth any legislation that has been widely considered and, with the 2012 American general elections around the corner, it is highly unlikely that they will consider such a hot button issue.
The venture by GiGA could be a harbinger of better times to come or – on the opposite side of the spectrum – could be a business that has no customers to serve.