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Industry Exec Confident of Future of USA Online Casino Gambling Laws

Aug 13, 2009


Mitch Garber, The head of Harrah’s new electronic and Internet division, showed confidence that the USA would soon overturn its present regulations resisting online casino gambling.

It must have respired a massive sigh of relief that his stint as the chief executive of the biggest publicly listed online gambling risk company in the world had come to an end.

Relief because Party Gaming, as the most high-profile online gambling promoter in the trade with the biggest USA reliance, was hit by USA law makers with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

The company had been listed on the London Stock Exchange for just over a year when UIGEA passed with a market value of about £5bn. Republican Senator and House leader Bill Frist added the UIGEA onto an anti-terrorism USA Safe Port Act at the end of September 2006 and the online gambling trade changed completely thereafter.

Due to the UIGEA Party Gaming announced that it would pull out of the USA casino gambling market, which stood for 75% of its market. The company’s shares fell sharply from about 170p to 50p and Party subsidiaries such the likes of Sporting bet, 888 and Leisure & gambling were forced to restructure, refocus their company strategies; laying off staff and then relying massively on affiliates to drive up to half their new consumer registration numbers.

If that wasn’t enough to contend with on a business front, rumors quickly started doing the rounds about how Garber had fallen out with Ruth Parasol, one of Party Gaming’s founders and main shareholders. The disagreement was over his plans to enter negotiations with the Department of just ice. Garber saw settlement with the as the only way to move the company forward and allow it to take part in industry consolidation with the slate wiped clean, while Parasol refused to even enter negotiations because she didn’t believe there was anything to be gained from talking to the authorities. Although Garber, unsurprisingly, would not comment on those issues or on what kind of agreement he reached with the after he left Party Gaming, he was able to return to Canada and work for a USA firm like Harrah’s.

“Montreal’s position halfway between Europe and Vegas is ideal for the job from a strategic point of view,” Garber said in the interviews. (Montreal is the headquarters of Harrah’s new interactive division.) “When it comes to (USA) regulation, I’m very confident that legislators will see that this is an industry that can be properly regulated, and that the technology exists to alleviate concerns about money laundering or age verification. I wouldn’t talk about it in dollar terms, but you can imagine Harrah’s is involved in regulatory efforts to see regulated and taxed internet gambling in the USA.”

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