Editorial: About to eat from our pot

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If you have followed our Internet gaming saga with the United States of America, you would know a lot of the details. But for those who do not, we will give the shortest summation that we can. Approximately 15 years ago, we asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to intervene in a dispute with the U.S. regarding certain measures that were being applied by central, regional and local authorities in the U.S., which affect our livelihood and the cross-border supply of gambling and betting services. It was, and still is, our contention that the cumulative impact of the U.S. measures is to prevent the supply of gambling and betting services to the United States on a cross-border basis.
After a lot of back and forth, we won! The WTO sided with us and told the United States to pay up for reneging on their trade obligations. Since then, we have gotten nothing. The United States has ignored us, and the bill has racked up to more than US$200 million. Aside from some paltry offerings, the U.S. has decided to be ‘big and bad’ and ignore the very body that the country has used successfully in the past on various trade disputes. Hypocrisy at its highest.
That wasn’t the only place that hypocrisy reigned. Along the way, the U.S. raised the morality flag and paraded all manner of evil associated with online gambling and betting services. To hear them tell it, the country’s morality would evaporate and every child in America would have a gambling addiction if the Pandora’s box was ever opened to countries such as ours. Except … the box was already open. Gambling and betting were already legal in certain places in the United States, and, in 2013, Nevada became the first state to legalise and implement online poker (a form of gambling, if you don’t know). To hear the news at the time, the poker sites that went live were the first ever “100 percent, legal” sites in America.
Now, we are not here to talk about the morality of betting or gambling because that ship has sailed. Anyone who plays lottery or bingo is betting on an uncertain outcome and that is the very definition of gambling. What we are here to talk about is the continued hypocrisy of the United States in this matter.
Recently, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and paved the way for legalised gambling in New Jersey and any other states that want in on the action. On both sides of the morality coin, the decision has been described as “opening the floodgates” when, in fact, it is simply fulfilling the predictions of just about every onlooker.
From day one, industry insiders and those on the outside predicted that this day would come. They labeled the ‘illegal’ trade actions taken by the U.S. as nothing more than protectionism. In gambling terminology, they would have said it was a “sure bet” that online betting and gambling would become a reality.  
So what does this all mean? Well, that is difficult to answer so soon after the decision, but we do know that we are still waiting for our cheque; and an apology would be nice as well. For the individual states in the Union, the Supreme Court decision has opened the door for them to get a piece of the nearly $150 billion of illegal betting activities that occur every year. But that all depends on how Congress reacts. Basically the decision said that the previous federal law violated the 10th amendment by “commandeering the legislative processes of the states.” In the 6-3 opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “The legalisation of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” adding, “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.”
That opens the door a bit, but there is no big ray of sunshine unless you are in the gambling business in the United States or looking to enter as a U.S. entity. Already it is good news for the casinos, with Caesars Entertainment stock rising six percent, and DraftKings announcing that it will enter the sports betting market.
It is unlikely that the U.S. federal government will be able to put the genie back in the bottle now that the magic has been revealed. States are likely viewing this as manna from heaven as they think about all the revenue that they will derive from that multi-billion dollar pot. Meanwhile, those, like us, who have been trampled by the hypocritical morality of our neighbours to the north, must sit on the sidelines and watch our food being eaten by those who claim to have hated the taste.
Our distaste aside, we would like to advise the government to get its hands into this pie and see if there is something we can salvage from the upcoming feeding frenzy; maybe a loaf or two from the buffet. And, start by asking about that US$200+ million cheque.

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