“Europe is now achieving what North American gambling interests have only dared to dream about”
The goings on in Europe have made the news a lot over the past few years, and for good reason. Make no mistake: Europeans are unifying their economies and their currencies for very pragmatic reasons not the least of which is to enable themselves to directly challenge American economic supremacy.
The effect on gambling in general, and Internet gambling in particular, of European economic unification is going to be enormous. This will of course be partially due to the widely anticipated economic prosperity that a unified European economy will enjoy but there are broader, deeper forces at work. At the heart of the issue is the fact that North Americans and Europeans have a fundamentally different attitude toward the whole gambling question.
North Americans tend to think of gambling as a sin, albeit a popular one, or at best an immoral vice. Witness the unending and rather zealous efforts of American politicians like Republicans Bob Goodlatte and Jim Leach to save us from ourselves, however quick they may be with rhetoric on “the war on terrorism” and other bugbears of our time. The point is that there is a large community of Americans trying very hard to tell their fellow North Americans that they can’t gamble. Europeans have no such hang-ups.
In fact in Europe gambling is just another recreational activity. It’s fun, exotic, even sexy depending on where you go and how you play. One thing it most certainly isn’t is a sin. Try suggesting that to a European and they’ll smile ever so slightly and excuse themselves from the conversation.
In many ways Europe is now achieving what North American gambling interests have only dared to dream about: close ties between brick and mortar gambling and the Internet casinos. If you ask your average American or Canadian Internet gambler how they’d feel about being able to play at Harrah’s or The MGM Grand on the Web you’d better bring a tissue because it’s going to bring a wistful tear to their eye.
Europeans on the other hand are already doing it. William Hill for instance is a major UK gambling and sports-betting interest — over 40 betting shops in London alone — and their Internet casino is already well established. Others, like bookie-chain Ladbrokes are following suit and there is strong evidence that this trend will continue with other major European gambling brands going unabashedly online.
Recognizing the huge upside potential of the Internet, Europe is moving forward with its licensing and regulation efforts for Online Casino Singapore. The Isle of Man for instance recently extended its licensing jurisdiction to include the Internet and began issuing licences. American gambling interests took immediate notice and MGM was one of the first in line.
Even European governments are looking toward the Internet: leading Internet gambling software companies have been commissioned to provide several governments with software that will run as their official, state-operated Internet casino.
And last but far from least in the European gambling initiative is the Internet itself. Leading DU members such as Germany, France and the UK are investing billions in extending the telecommunications infrastructure to accommodate high-speed Internet access. Though these initiatives have bogged down recently for various technical and financial reasons the point can hardly be missed: Europe is serious about the Internet and Europe will become a very large, high-speed Internet community.
When one looks forward and combines these various elements — a population unfettered by moralistic anti-gambling lobbyists; gambling-friendly governments with established licensing and regulatory structures in place; widely available broadband access; and a new prosperity bought on by the unification of the European economies — it’s not hard to see that the Internet gambling initiative is now in European hands.