Gamers strike back against Adelson's web poker crusade

UPDATED, 9:30 AM, 2/5/14:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is slightly important on this issue, has come out against this new AGA-sponsored coalition. This from spokeswoman Kristen Orthman:

Senator Reid has long believed that a significant expansion of gambling is bad for Nevada and for the country. He continues to oppose any efforts, including those proposed by the AGA, that would bring slot machines and other games of chance into every computer and home in America. He also, however, understands the difference between games like online slots and games of skill, such as poker, and supports the efforts of states to decide for themselves whether to legalize internet poker.


UPDATED, 8:35 AM, 2/5/14: Here's the memo AGA chief Geoff Freeman sent to his board Tuesday:


AGA Board:
> >
> > On Wednesday, the AGA's commercial casinos and manufacturers will join together with tribes, technology companies, geolocation providers, payment processors, federal and state elected officials and consumers in supporting the Coalition for Consumer Online Protection. This new entity is dedicated to creating a regulated Internet gaming marketplace and preventing a federal ban of online gaming.  The coalition will operate exclusively at the federal level - encouraging Congress to embrace regulation as the best means to protect minors, detect money launderers and eliminate a dangerous black market.
> >
> > Our participation in this effort aligns directly with the AGA’s Strategic framework; specifically, the objective to prevent harm to the gaming industry.  The AGA's role is to protect the ability of our members to innovate and capitalize on new gaming platforms.  The industry has long supported regulated gaming and we will continue to do so in emerging marketplaces.
> >
> > While our engagement with the coalition is a necessary activity given the current Internet gaming debate, our day-to-day focus remains on executing our 2014 strategic plan; specifically, sharing our industry's positive story, positioning ourselves as an asset to local communities and creating a regulatory environment that empowers the industry to innovate.
> >
> > I will continue to keep you apprised of the coalition’s efforts and look forward to sharing more of the AGA’s broader achievements to facilitate the growth of our industry.
> >
> > Geoff





Politico's Anna Palmer was first to report late Tuesday that the American gaming Association and its allies have started a coalition of their own to combat Sheldon Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gaming. And they, too, can do polling and hire former elected officials.

Here's the polling memo from North Star, and the breathless release is attached.

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: Dan Judy and Whit Ayres

DATE: February 3, 2014

RE: Key Findings from National Survey of Registered Voters Regarding Online Gaming

Our national survey of registered voters finds strong opposition to a nationwide ban on online gaming, and an overwhelming preference for the current state-by-state approach to the issue. Voters acknowledge that they may not personally engage in online gaming, but support the rights of other Americans to do so. They have concerns about the current unsafe black market, as well as the ineffectiveness of prohibition or any attempt to stifle technological innovations on the internet.

Highlights from the 1,000 interviews conducted by telephone January 25-29, 2014 are:

1. A solid majority of voters opposes Congress banning online gaming nationwide.

Voters oppose “Congress banning all online gaming nationwide” by a 57 to 37 percent margin. Thirty-three percent of voters “strongly” oppose a ban, while just 22 percent “strongly support” it.

2. Voters overwhelmingly prefer the current state-by-state approach to a nationwide ban on online gaming. Seventy-four percent of voters believe that “Each state should decide for itself whether to allow online gaming, and determine how to regulate online gaming in their state,” while just 22 percent say that “Congress should pass a nationwide ban on online gaming, including games like poker and blackjack.” This includes bipartisan majorities of 74 to 23 percent among Republicans, 79 to 18 percent among independents, and 70 to 24 percent among Democrats.

Sixty-nine percent of voters say that “Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada already offer online gaming with proven regulations in place that work” is a persuasive reason to support regulating online gaming, and 64 percent say that “A Congressional ban would trample on the rights of Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada, which have already decided for themselves to allow legal, responsible online gaming” is a persuasive argument against a nationwide ban.3. Voters overwhelmingly support the rights of Americans to engage in safe and fair online gaming. Voters agree that “I may not personally engage in online gaming, but I support the rights of other Americans to do so as long as the games are fair, provide regulations to protect children, and raise tax revenues for state and local projects” by an overwhelming 70 to 28 percent margin, including margins of 63 to 35 percent among Republicans, 69 to 29 percent among independents, and 77 to 22 percent among Democrats.

4. Voters are concerned about the current unsafe black market, and the potential harm it could cause to children. Sixty-three percent of voters say that “If American companies are prohibited from developing online games, foreign companies will fill that void, and will not respect American laws while marketing their games to children” and “A ban on legal online gaming only promotes an unsafe billion dollar illegal black market that has no consumer protections for children.” These are both persuasive arguments against a nationwide online gaming ban.

5. Voters believe that prohibition does not work, and that Congress should not attempt to ban internet technologies that already exist and are being used. Sixty-three percent of voters say that “Prohibition never works. It did not work with alcohol and it will not work with online gaming” is a persuasive reason to oppose a nationwide online gaming ban. Moreover, 75 percent believe that “We have to be realistic and use common sense. It is impossible to ban anything on the internet. Effective regulations are the best way to protect consumers and children” and 69 percent agree that “Regulation is the only way to keep online games safe and fair. Online games are not going away no matter what laws are passed.” These are also persuasive reasons to support regulating online gaming.

This survey clearly shows that Americans oppose a Congressional ban on online gaming nationwide. This attitude is driven by their concerns about an unsafe black market that is harmful to consumers and children, their skepticism about the effectiveness of prohibition, their support for individual rights, and their preference for state, rather than federal, solutions.