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Emily D. Swoboda

Millions Spent on US I-Gaming Lobbying Efforts

24 August 2007

A federal law enacted in 1995 requires lobbyists to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches. Accordingly, several groups last week did just that by reporting their spending habits as they relate to I-gaming issues.

The American Gaming Association (AGA), which represents the U.S. land-based casino and entertainment industry, in the first six months of 2007 spent $900,000 lobbying Congress on certain Internet gambling-related issues, according to Senate public records filed on Aug. 17. The group's lobbying dollars so far this year have gone to the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2046), the Internet Gambling Study Act (H.R. 2140) and the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act (H.R. 2607). The reports, however, do not disclose which way the group is trying to sway the government.

In addition spending its own money, two Washington, D.C.,-based lobbying firms shelled out funds on behalf of the AGA on the same issues, for a grand total of $1.2 million during the six-month period.

Fierce Isakowitz & Blalock paid out $100,000 alone on H.R. 2607, while Duberstein Group spent $20,000 lobbying H.R. 2046, H.R. 2140 and H.R. 2607.

The AGA has historically stood in opposition of legalizing Internet gambling in the United States. In May, however, it came out with a statement offering its 'cautious support' of H.R. 2046. Moreover, it has pushed since May 2006 for a federally funded study on the impact of online gambling, such the one proposed in H.R. 2140.

Besides Congress, the AGA targeted the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service in its lobbying efforts.

The Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), which represents the online gambling industry, through three separate firms gave $330,000 to I-gaming legislation efforts. Moreover, the IGC's money and efforts are going toward monitoring the implementation of the regulations for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, enacted in October 2006, according to records.

Foreign online gaming companies have been busy lobbying the government as well. Through three different firms, PartyGaming has spent a total of $440,000 on Internet gambling legislation. And Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney P.C. disbursed $60,000 on behalf of Sportingbet.

Meanwhile U.S. land-based casino companies are spending thousands on I-gaming issues. Station Casinos Inc. spent $60,000, while Harrah's spent $100,000--though, again, it is unclear on which side of the issue they stand.

Millions Spent on US I-Gaming Lobbying Efforts is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda