In the United States, gambling issues drew upwards of $6.98 million in lobbyist spending in the first quarter of 2008.
But, narrowing the field to Internet gambling issues, gaming interests spent almost as much in the first three months of 2008 lobbying Congress as they did in the last six months of 2007.
According to Congressional documents, lobbyists have reported approximately $2.86 million in lobbying expenses for the first quarter of 2008, compared to a total of $3.3 million in the second half of 2007.
The following figures were reported in first quarter of 2008 and the second half of 2007, respectively.
American Gaming Association
The group with the deepest pockets -- once again -- is the American Gaming Association, a trade group that represents the interests of the land-based casino industry.
Though the organization remains neutral on issues relating to Internet gambling, it has publicly supported a proposal introduced in 2007 to conduct a study of Internet gambling to see whether it could be properly regulated in the United States.
The association has spent $800,000 so far this year, in-house, lobbying the Internet gambling study bill as well as legislation relating to the regulation and taxation of Internet gambling. The A.G.A. has also lobbied legislation that would establish a clear definition of skill games in the United States Code.
The association spent the same amount in the second half of 2007.
In the first quarter, PartyGaming, the Gibraltar based operator, spent $90,000 through two separate lobbying firms on issues relating to online gaming legislation, including "possible amendments to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act."
PartyGaming spent $220,000 in the second half of 2007.
Poker Players Alliance
The Poker Players Alliance, a group advocating American poker players' rights, is one of the highest spenders so far this year.
During the first quarter, it spent $346,750 on in-house lobbying efforts, as well as $300,000 with five other lobbying firms.
The P.P.A. spent $1.2 million in the second half of 2007.
Sportingbet, the United Kingdom-based operator, spent $80,000 in the first quarter, which is the same amount it spent in the second half of 2007.
Interactive Gaming Council
The Interactive Gaming Council, a trade association based in Vancouver, spent $432,950 using nine lobbying firms in the first quarter. The council is fast approaching the $490,000 it spent in the second half of last year.
Antigua Online Gaming Association
The Antigua Online Gaming Association saw $90,000 go to lobbying efforts in the first quarter.
The association, which represents online gambling businesses licensed in Antigua, has a particular interest in seeing a change in United States legislation covering online gambling.
Antigua and the United States have been embroiled in a battle at the World Trade Organization over the United States' prohibitive Internet gambling laws.
The association spent $120,000 on lobbying in the last six months of 2007.
Interactive Skill Games Association
The Interactive Skill Games Association spent $40,000: half on in-house lobbying and half through a firm. The total, however, is $100,000 less than the group spent in the second half of last year.
American Bankers Association
The American Bankers Association, a group which lobbies on behalf of banks nationwide, spent a total of $2.2 million on several issues, including the regulation of Internet gambling.
It is unclear, however, what portion of the money went to Internet gambling regulatory issues.
Interactive Gaming News did not previously report on the lobbying spending of the American Bankers Association.
Perhaps the spending push from gaming interests was motivated by the election year, which could see a change in the current party's rule over the administration. In addition, the election will cut short this year's legislative session. It stands to reason the I-gaming industry, which suffered tremendous financial loss upon the enactment of the United States I-gaming ban, would want to put forth the effort to ensure that a well-placed politician could benefit the global Internet gambling industry.
The preceding figures were provided by the Senate's Lobbying Disclosure Act Database and OpenSecrets.org, a Web site that tracks political spending.
Due to time constraints and deadlines, IGN was unable to provide the names of all of the lobbying firms. To access that information, please visit Lobbying Disclosure Act Database and OpenSecrets.org.