The top ten gaming panel observations at the two-day International Masters of Gaming Law conference held in Vienna, Austria, last week were as follows:
- Merger and acquisition activity in the gaming equipment manufacturing and related software development industry will pick up in 2012.
- The impact of the internet on the gaming business is massive and needs to be fully understood and addressed by the regulators in a logical, common sense fashion. The technological revolution and its impact on enforcement issues present significant challenges for the regulators and the industry.
- Internet gaming is expanding rapidly in Europe, with Italy leading the way. State monopolies are gradually fading away in favor of an open, competitive, commercial internet gaming market that emphasizes commercial transparency. The challenge is to properly protect the public from phony operators and protect player accounts. The European Parliament is awaiting a green paper on online gaming (pegged as the "Creutzmann Report" in honor of its author) which will be forthcoming in October and will serve as the basis for the European Parliament's development of online gaming policies. The focus of the recommendations will be minimum standards, transparent reporting, and financial transaction regulation designed to block illegal operators.
- Eastern European countries continue to suffer from significant decreases in the number of gaming establishments and consequently a continuing decrease in gaming revenues. This is prompting Eastern European countries to update their gaming legislation to include internet gaming and establishment of gaming environments that encourage the expansion of gaming and related increases in revenue.
- There is a disconnect between legislative bodies and the reality of the marketplace conduct of compulsive gamblers. This disconnect begs for scientific studies of proposed policies and systems. Such studies will enable regulators to identify and treat compulsive gamblers in manners that are effective rather than merely adopting feel good policies that either have no impact at all or that actually have the impact of encouraging additional compulsive gambling or adverse side effects such as domestic violence. This requires much greater dialogue between the regulators and the gaming industry backed by substantive scientific studies.
- Battle lines are developing on the issue of how to tax online gambling. There are substantive differences between land-based gaming and online gaming that need to be taken into account in determining an appropriate tax structure for online gaming.
- The American Gaming Association is working on a white paper for industry regulators addressing substantive ways to improve effective regulation of the industry.
- The globalization of gaming is producing a boom in the international markets.
- The upcoming generation of gamblers is demanding new and more interesting games, and the industry is working diligently to respond to this demand.
- The substantive dialogue between regulators, independent gaming laboratories, and gaming equipment suppliers needs to increase substantially in light of the rapid changes that are occurring in the gaming industry.
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