Stars and Stripes (or Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs): The politics of casinos in the US


Do you know what it takes to get an online casino up and running? It’s not easy – and I’m not even talking about money. There’s the software, the 3rd party audits to confirm randomness of the software, the cost of hiring customer service teams and writers and graphic designers. The list goes on and on.

Of course, there’s also the need for licenses. Land-based casinos need to pay for licenses in the jurisdictions in which they operate. Caesars can’t just build a casino in South Carolina if the government doesn’t allow them (and they don’t). And many online casinos choose to be licensed by international gambling bodies, so there’s the cost of that.

Bottom line? It ain’t cheap. But the land-based world has an expense that the online world just doesn’t have: Politics.

Yup, it turns out politics is expensive, particularly as it relates to gambling. Since individual countries and states control if a land-based casino can operate within its borders, convincing a government to let you open a casino is a business in its own right.

And it’s big business. Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York introduced casino legislation to open up the land-based casino market. He included a provision that would ban political contributions from casino interests.

Sounds like a fair deal right? We think so too. Except when the bill finally passed, the provision banning political contributions was deleted.

Since the bill passed, over $11 million has been spent on lobbying and political contributions. That’s just in the past two years. And casinos haven’t even been constructed in New York yet.

Those lobbying includes big players all vying to make sure that their casino can operate with their own interest at heart. The ultimate goal is to make sure that, as a casino, your interests are met.

As someone who works in the online space, I think this type of lobbying should be banned. When a casino interest group contributes money to a political organization, their ultimate goal is to better themselves, not the player.

Don’t get me wrong. Only casinos are in business to make money too. But online casinos don’t bribe the powers that be at a licensing entity to help them earn a license. It’s just not right and these licensing bodies don’t stand for it.

As new states look to casinos to help boost their economy, I hope they include anti-lobbying provisions in and casino legislation. It’s the right thing to do and it will mean a fairer playing field for the entire industry.

Susan Sedlak

Susan Sedlak is a writer based on San Diego, California. Being an avid player, and most importantly, an avid blog reader, Susan knows how to deliver interesting, highly entertaining articles.


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