A new trade association made up of some of the world's biggest bookmakers is rising up to protect the interests of Internet betting and gaming operators in Europe.
". . . ARGO is very much aimed at the actual operators and the interests of the operators."
- Edward Andrewes
The Association of Remote Gaming Operators (ARGO), still in its infancy, will take over the role previously filled by an Internet subcommittee of the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB).
And though ARGO is expected to retain an affiliation with the ABB, it will become a completely separate, autonomous body with its own chairman, committee and general secretary. The recruitment process for the general secretary is already well underway.
While the ABB is specifically for British bookmakers, ARGO will represent Internet operators of both sports betting and casino-style gaming, not just in the United Kingdom, but in all of Europe.
The group's interest is very U.K.-focused at the moment, however, with Ladbrokes, William Hill, Coral, Bet365 and Blue Square as the only verifiable pledges. ARGO Spokesperson Edward Andrewes said there are lots of other interested companies, though they are primarily British sports books.
Andrewes said the members of the ABB's Internet sub-committee wanted a trade body that could more specifically address their needs.
"The general feeling is that while iGBBA (the Interactive, Gaming, Gambling, and Betting Association) is good in some areas, the feeling for a lot of the actual core operators is that iGBBA tries to look after too many interests," Andrewes said. "iGBAA is involved with the legal firms, the software developers--basically the whole industry--whereas ARGO is very much aimed at the actual operators and the interests of the operators."
The recent onslaught of distributed denial of service attacks is a prime example of the need for trade a association composed solely of operators. As the sector that experiences downtime, and hence revenue losses during an attack, operators carry a portion of the DDoS burden that is heavier than the rest of the industry's share.
One of ARGO's first acts was to deliver a written submission to Britain's All Party Internet Group (APIG), suggesting remedies to alleviate the DDoS problem. APIG held an independent inquiry into the Computer Misuse Act of 1990 (CMA) to determine whether the act was sufficient to identify, deter and punish perpetrators of DDoS attacks.
Andrewes said that cross-border legislation in the European community is another issue that is at the top of ARGO's agenda. ARGO will fight for operators' rights to advertise and offer services in other member states.
"[Members] will use their funds where necessary to fight on a legal basis," Andrewes said. "I think the general idea is that most of those interests are common to everybody and therefore with a sort of joint fund for legal issues it is going to make the collective group stronger."