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
Mark Balestra

Interactive Gambling - 2004 and Beyond

7 January 2005

2004 and Beyond

A Look Back at 2004
The year 2004 in review.

The Best and Worst of 2004
Awards that mean virtually nothing.

A Glance at 2005
What to expect in the coming year.

Top Stories of 2004

  1. The mass appeal of Internet poker takes online gambling to new levels.
  2. The World Trade Organization rules that the United States should not be blocking foreign online gambling services.
  3. The European cross-border gambling war rages on.
  4. Hackers target the online gambling industry.
  5. CasinoCity challenges the U.S. Justice Department's stance on I-gaming ads.
  6. The United Kingdom moves toward gambling reform.
  7. Racing interests battle betting exchanges.
  8. Numerous jurisdictions welcome I-gaming services for the first time.
  9. Australia's federal government reviews the Interactive Gambling Act.
  10. Sportingbet takes the gambling world by storm.

2004 Highlights

The Good

For the second year and a row, an online qualifier (Greg Raymer) takes home the top prize at the World Series of Poker.

The Bad

Jon Kyl and Michael Oxley continue their efforts to prohibit Internet gambling in the United States.

The Ugly

Not all of Golden Palace's promotional stunts hit the mark.

What a year it was for the interactive gambling industry. This is the sixth edition of IGN's "Year in Review" feature, and I can't remember the last time the outlook for I-gaming was so positive.

It was a year of many very significant developments--both positive and negative--but all accounts of 2004 begin and end with poker. The Internet poker explosion in '04 (carrying over from '03) was nothing short of extraordinary. The booming poker sector is to I-gaming as I-gaming was to gambling in general seven or eight years ago. The ongoing arrivals of new revenue channels like mobile gambling, betting exchanges and interactive TV games have enabled the I-gaming industry to escape stagnation and continue to grow, but not since the arrival and proliferation of the first online gambling sites in the mid '90s has the industry experience such a jolt.

But poker wasn't the only boon for online gambling in '04. If an industry is to be defined by the stature of its companies, then 2004 was an overwhelming success. Virgin Group and PBL have reentered the fray. World Poker Tour is breaking through with an online poker room, and Harrah's is expected to launch a World Series of Poker site. Further, Gambling brands are partnering with major entertainment brands, greatly increasing the visibility of the online gambling industry. The year brought in numerous new entrants of all sizes to the industry--probably more than '02 and '03 combined. And of course, all this activity has sparked an interest in the investment community, which is taking I-gaming more seriously than ever before. Add to the list the progress of technology (mobile, broadband, iTV, etc.) and the adoption of I-gaming in numerous new jurisdictions and its easy to see why the outlook for the industry is better than ever.

Nevertheless, there was, as always, a fair share of bad news as well. The prohibition effort continued strongly in the United States, as did the crackdown on advertising, the industry failed to find a universally effective payment system, England's attheraces consortium fell apart, the world's third largest P2P site, Sporting Options, went under and hackers waged war on the I-gaming industry. Internet gambling remains an industry under siege, and the presence of controversy and conflict remains a constant.

Around the World

Europe: The cross-border conflicts heated up in 2004, with no sign of ending. Member states in continental Europe believe they have the right to block gambling sites based in other member states, while several operators, including Betfair, Ladbrokes and Sprortingbet are challenging those stances. The European Commission is considering a Europe-wide policy, but isn't expected to implement anything until 2004. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, is moving slowly toward passing its Gambling Bill, which will likely establish a licensing scheme for online casinos.

North America: It was a year of positives as well as negatives in North America. The U.S. federal legislature continued its efforts to pass the Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act. The individual states, however, would like to decide for themselves how to address online gambling, and some have shown an interest in moving forward with regulations. The Justice Department isn't waiting for a prohibition bill, as efforts to discourage media outlets from carrying online gambling ads have been quite effective. Canadian lotteries began offering Internet betting services in 2004.

Africa: Whether South Africa is headed toward legalizing online gambling depends on who you ask and when. The country, long considered a potential online gambling jurisdiction, passed its National Gambling Act in 2004, and a regulatory regime for online gambling wasn't included. The law does, however, set forth a schedule of transitional provisions requiring the gaming board and minister to consider legislation to regulate interactive gambling and to report their findings on a timely basis.

Asia: Most countries in the Far East continued to resist online gambling, with China, Thailand and other countries coming down on Internet cafes that allowed patrons to gamble on site. Meanwhile, interactive lotteries are popping up all over eastern and southern Asia, with suppliers in Korea, India and elsewhere introducing new services. The legality of many of these services has come into question though.

South America: New online gambling services were launched in Brazil and Chile in 2004. The continent as a whole is progressing slowly into the Internet age and is a potentially huge I-gaming market. But it's not there yet.

Australia: The philosophy in Australia isn't entirely unlike that in Europe: Licensed land-based operators (in the case of Australia, the TABs) are interested in the Internet as a distribution channel, but they are very leery of foreign competition using the Internet to invade their markets. In 2004, the federal government elected not to amend the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act, and all eyes turn to the states--particularly when it comes to betting exchanges.

Check out the following articles for a closer look at 2004 and a look at what to expect in 2005:

A Look Back at 2004
Top Stories of 2004
The Best and Worst of 2004
A Glance at 2005

See also:

Interactive Gambling: 2003 and Beyond
Interactive Gambling: 2002 and Beyond
Interactive Gambling: 2001 and Beyond
Interactive Gambling: 2000 and Beyond
Interactive Gambling: 1999 and Beyond

Interactive Gambling - 2004 and Beyond is republished from
Mark Balestra
Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Mark Balestra
Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.