Post-Election Thoughts

3 November 2004

Votes are cast, results are in and the lawsuit challenges seem to be minimal at this point.

Now that we know what the political voice of Americans said on Nov. 2, what does it mean for the I-gaming industry?

Dan Walsh with Greenberg Traurig has long monitored the political machinations of Washington as lobbyist for the Interactive Gaming Council. IGN caught up with him this morning to get his perspective on the events of Election Day.

First he noted changes in the U.S. Senate that may affect the industry. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D, lost his seat to John R. Thune, a Republican. Dacshle has had a hold on the I-gaming prohibition bill in the past. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., may be elected to the minority leader position. He also has a hold on that proposed legislation, but he's coming from the standpoint of representing the land-based interests of the Las Vegas operators. Another Senate factor is the election of two conservative Christian senators from Oklahoma and South Carolina, who helped the Republicans gain four seats in the Senate. (The GOP's majority hold rose from 51-48-1 to 55-44-1)

Another consideration coming into play is the future of various members of the Bush administration. The conventional wisdom is that John Ashcroft may be replaced. "I've heard it said that they may be looking more for someone to enforce policy rather than to make policy," Walsh noted about the word on the street.

The standard practice is for all political appointees to hand in resignation letters in the change of terms. Depending on how closely tied he is to Ashcroft, James Martin, who took over the St. Louis U.S. Attorney position from Ray Gruender in the office that has issued subpoenas regarding the advertising of I-gaming operators, may or may not be retained.

In terms of legislation, it would appear that the federal I-gaming prohibition bill will not be taken up in the "lame duck" session of Congress before the end of 2004. Thus, the process starts over again for any legislation aimed at the industry. Walsh points out that one thing to look for in the new session beginning in January is the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. Judiciary Chairman Sensenbrenner and ranking Minority member John Conyers, will likely maintain their positions on inserting I-gaming issues into this. But parts of the bill will certainly go to the Financial Services Committee, where Chairman Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, seems adamant in trying to bring the industry into the debate.

When asked about the Conyers-Cannon bill, which would set up a commission to explore regulating the industry, Walsh said it was uncertain how such a bill would fare in the next Congress. However, he does see the likelihood of such a bill being introduced in the next session, which may give those in favor of a regulatory approach some hope for a studied discussion of the facts.

Mrs. Schneider is the founder of IGamingNews and former chief executive of River City Group. She now consults for Clarion Gaming and contributes regularly to IGamingNews.