U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist last night (Friday) carried out his promise to attach his anti-online gambling measure to any "must pass" legislation available, regardless of relevancy.
After having earlier attempts to attach the measure to defense bills
rebuffed, the Senator focused on the Port Security Bill and through
some adroit political maneuvering and negotiation managed to attach
a compromise measure and thus include it in voting by the House. The
compromise measure focused mainly on hampering online gambling financial
channels, and dropped amendments to the Wire Act 1961 itself.
Proceedings went on into the early hours of this (Saturday) morning, ending when the vote went overwhelmingly in favor of the Port Security Bill, which carried the compromise internet gaming measure through on its skirts despite reservations by several politicians.
The Port Security Bill and its attachments will now go forward to a voice vote in the Senate, after which bureaucratic process and the President's signature are believed to be the only delays in bringing it to law.
Share prices fell and online gambling companies were considering their continued presence in the US market today (Monday) as the impact of the approval of a U.S. bill curbing online gambling financial channels was felt.
Shares of Gibraltar-based PartyGaming, the world's largest publicly
traded online gaming company, slid 65 pence, or 61 percent, to 42
pence at 8:27 a.m. in London. 888, the world's largest online casino,
slid 70.5 pence, or 48 percent, to 76 pence. The company said about
half of its revenue is made in the U.S.
Sportingbet tumbled 69 percent to 58 pence. The company said the U.S. rules prompted it to abandon talks to buy World Gaming Plc, whose shares slid 76 percent as a consequence.
Empire Online Ltd., whose online gambling brands include Club Dice, fell 17 pence, or 25 percent, to 50 pence. NETeller Plc, a U.K. provider of money transfers for Internet gaming companies, fell 215 pence, or 61 percent, to 140 pence.
888 Holdings has confirmed that its board of directors has decided to suspend participation by US based customers in activities covered by the new US legislation. One of the most respected and pioneer online gambling software providers, Cryptologic also announced that it will no longer accept business from United States residents.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Mitch Garber, chief executive officer of PartyGaming considered the implications of the U.S. funding ban on online gambling.
"This development is a significant setback for our company, our shareholders, our players and our industry," he said. "While US horse-race betting, state lotteries, fantasy contests and certain other online gaming activities have been exclusively protected under the new law, we are disappointed that the popularity and skill of poker in particular have not also been specifically protected."
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act throws up a financial barrier around the US to stop Americans from gambling online and was added to unrelated legislation for US port security for an unexpected successful passage.
Other online gaming companies also issued statements in the light of the weekend's events. Empire Online said it had immediately begun a review of the likely impact on its current business activities. "Presently it is difficult to assess the exact effect of this legislation, which could have a material impact on future earnings."
Officials from PokerStars have told industry media the major Israeli-owned online poker company is considering the suspension of its activities in the US market, although no decision has yet been made.
Bodog.com CEO Calvin Ayre issued a statement to Gambling911.com late Sunday night: "Bodog is a broad based digital entertainment company that has long ago ceased to be dependent on any one revenue channel. Bodog will continue to monitor things as they unfold but is not expected to make any changes until our study is completed."