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UK Online Gambling Firms get US Boost

2012 looks to be an interesting year for UK online gaming companies after Christmas presented them with a potentially juicy present in the form of a change in the interpretation of a controversial US law that has dogged them for years.

A complicated subject, what this effectively means is that the law makers have paved the way for state online lotteries, online casinos and the ever popular online poker to be legal. For many this development was inevitable as numerous states in the US were not happy with the restrictions put upon them and have consequently during the last few years been working on ways of ironing out their own specific legal wrinkles.   

Looking at poker in particular, state level online poker legislation should open the door to gambling services being provided by offshore operators. Not surprisingly, when the US Department of Justice (DoJ) published its new take on the Wire Act of 1961 - now of the opinion that “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a ‘sporting event or contest’ fall outside of the reach of the Wire Act” - the share prices of relevant UK-listed firms rose considerably.

One such is Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, with an increase of 23 per cent. Ironically, the DoJ famously fined Party Gaming $105 million for illegally operating in the US (based on the very same Wire Act). Given that - unlike some of its competitors - Party went out of its way to comply, the company seems to have been rather unfortunate in its treatment to say the least. Whether recompense is sought is another issue, but what is clear, after playing ball and subsequently getting firmly in the driving seat by signing joint venture deals in October 2011 with Las Vegas operators Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts, is that Bwin.Party is well placed as a front-runner to make a triumphant return to the US market.

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