For some consecutive years yet the world public’s eyes are locked on the USA and this country fighting against online casinos. As you remember, in 2006 the Congress has adopted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act (UIGEA). According to this Act they would have passed within 270 days a supplementary explanation on the application thereof for the banks, but such explanations appeared in 2008 only. If they are implemented the USA banks will have the pain in the ass trying to find out the transactions from online casinos (cheques, bank transfers). The banks should absolutely meet the requirements already in the end of the year 2009 but most of analysts believe that this would not happen, that is really too much against the background of the banking crisis. Meanwhile the US online gamblers hope for Obama and democrats to cancel the known UIGEA. The have tried to pass the Act through the committee in 2008 and failed, only one vote was missing. But now they are going to make one more try and there is a hope that this one will be more successful. Nevertheless one should not yet count on a quick cancellation of the Act, all the more for the online casinos (we have more chance in case of the poker), though a miracle can happen.
This year brought a new problem and again from the USA. The Governor of Kentucky State brought the action against 141 gambling sites to the court of his State. All these sites were charged with violation of the Internet Gambling Act, they received the American (Kentucky inhabitants in particular). The basis thereof was the try to protect the State lottery from online competitors as the lottery generates profits and online 918kiss and poker-rooms don’t. The worst thing was that under this action the State authorities should have had a possibility to seize domain names of all such 141 sites (among them almost all Microgaming casinos and RTGs, plus the largest poker-rooms). Most of great domain name registrars are located in the USA and they were forced to obey (at least one of them, the GoDaddy, confirmed its readiness to cooperate). As a result, the court gave a month to the sites to expel the gamblers from Kentucky State and they were forced to do so. Generally one can say that the judgment was made in favour of the State authorities, but taking into account “the cooperation” the punitive measures were not taken. Some sites united and raised the claim to the Court of Appeal of the State which stated that the domains were not “gambling facilities” and they cannot be seized under the State law. This resolution was made already in the beginning of the year 2009 but the Governor is going to appeal against the resolution at the court of appellate jurisdiction, we’ll see where it will lead. And now let’s see how the online casino industry is going under conditions of similar press.
Let me start from the Microgaming, the largest and the most known software supplier. This year can hardly be named the most successful but it can hardly be named a failure as well. Let me remind you that the Microgaming didn’t stop accepting US players but despite this advantage the whole casino group with such software became a bankrupt in the beginning of the year. Fortunately, all casinos were redeemed by the other group so that the gamblers didn’t suffer. In the beginning and in the middle of the year an “optimization” as well as merger and takeover wave came. Several groups united their casinos to stand against the crisis more efficiently, at that some casinos closed (the gamblers moved to the rest of them). For instance, a well-known Trident Group stopped existing, two of three casinos thereof closed. But by the end of the year the situation became stable and new casinos with this software were dynamically opening all over the year. As a result for the year a number of casinos with the Microgaming software didn’t practically change.