Gaming Strategy
Featured Stories
Legal News Financial News Casino Opening and Remodeling News Gaming Industry Executives Author Home Author Archives Search Articles Subscribe
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Kevin Smith

Sportingbet's DC Mission

27 March 2003

Mark Blandford realizes he has a tough task in front of him, but that doesn't mean he isn't committed to putting up a good fight.

"I think our efforts are having an effect," the executive vice chairmen of Sportingbet said of his firm's continued advertising campaign in Washington D.C.

"The more people we can educate about our industry and get them to support our idea, the more progress we can make."
- Mark Blandford

Last May the company took out full-page ads in key Washington publications. The initial ad had a headline that read, "Please Sir, Can I pay Tax?"

The accompanying editorial argued that rather than outlawing the industry, the U.S. government should employ regulations to promote reliable and honest gaming. It also implied that the open, borderless nature of the Internet would make it impossible for the government to enforce any prohibition act.

The ad ran in The Washington Post and The Washington Times as well as The Hill and Roll Call, the leading publications for congressional news

Within the last month Sportingbet's ad campaign took on a new cause: a full-fledged effort to increase support for Rep. John Conyers', D-Mich., Internet Gambling Licensing and Regulation Commission Act, a bill that would set up a commission to study the feasibility of regulating the industry in the U.S.

Sportingbet has also produced new ads focusing on the prohibition effort. Chief is among them is one with a headline of "Surely We Can't Disagree," in which the ad explains how the U.S. and U.K. governments often take the same approach when dealing with issues. During a time when the two countries lead the pressure on Iraq, the ad points out, the United States has taken a completely different stance than England in dealing with online gaming.

In another ad the company explains how prohibition will only bring on more problems for citizens and society, similar to the effect of the 1920s when the U.S. government tried to prohibit the sale and consumption of alcohol.

Another, titled "If You Are In Two Minds About Internet Gambling This May Help," describes how legitimate and licensed operators need regulation to maintain a competitive advantage in the market. In addition to promoting Sportingbet's reputation as a credible operator, the ads seeks to inform Americans of the United Kingdom's policy for regulating online betting and the taxation system established by the U.K. Treasury.

Nearly a year after launching the first ad, Blandford said the company's chief goal has been accomplished.

"All we wanted to do in the beginning was to get a dialogue started between us and some of the key players on Capitol Hill," he said.

Since the campaign began, Blandford has made numerous trips to Washington to met face-to-face with policy makers, both those in favor of and against prohibition as well as those who haven't yet taken a stance.

"The key people we feel are the ones in the middle," Blandford said. "Some are never going to change their mind, they want to prohibit it or they feel strongly about regulating it. The more people we can educate about our industry and get them to support our idea, the more progress we can make."

Blandford is more optimistic than ever about the chances of regulation being considered in the U.S.

Now that the Conyers bill has been introduced, he is hopeful U.S. leadership will look at the British approach.

Right now England is in the middle of what is being called the "deregulation" of its gambling laws, although Blandford feels the process is more of "updating" the current laws.

"A lot of these laws haven't been updated in a long time and technology has certainly introduced new means of doing business that need to be looked at," he said.

At the top of the list is the country's approach to Internet casinos and sports books. Although no final decision has been made, the government is leaning towards introducing a regulatory system for operators.

Blandford said the situation in England has been one of his strongest arguments in Washington.

"That is a huge advantage to have," he said. "There are a lot of jurisdictions in the Caribbean that claim to be regulated but really aren't. The U.K. is looking at a fully regulated system and that is what we would like to see in the U.S."

Click here to view samples of Sportingbet's advertisements.

Sportingbet's DC Mission is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith