With Pokerstars the headline sponsor of this year’s Brazilian Gaming Congress, Eric Hollreiser, vice president of corporate communications for Amaya and PokerStars, offers his perspective on the benefits of regulation in the LatAm region.
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]nline gaming has become big global business over the last decade and it’s only set to grow larger. We believe that sensible regulation at the federal level is the best way to harness that growth creating jobs for the local economy and generating gaming duties and marketing spend at the national level. Not only does sensible legislation protect the public from risk, the alternative does not make online gaming disappear.
The rapid advancement in global connectivity and the proliferation of devices that allow customers to access online services have made the market profitable, but they didn’t create the marketplace: betting has been popular for centuries. Today, online poker, casino and sportsbetting is a recreational pastime for millions of people around the world who choose to wager on an event to test their smarts or make a sporting spectacle that little bit more engaging.
Instant access to online sites has made placing those bets a lot easier, both in Brazil and globally. When online gaming is unregulated, as it is in Brazil, it creates a vacuum of guidance. That in turn allows online operators to set their own working methodologies. There is no enforcement of responsible gaming commitments; no fraud controls imposed; no money-laundering prevention stipulations; and no way to ensure that player funds are protected, winnings bets paid out, or bonuses honoured.
Well-regulated operators such as Amaya hold themselves to account knowing the importance of fair play in terms of integrity and reputation, but are also held to account by regulators in multiple jurisdictions around the world. In a regulated environment customers are well protected, operators profit but are held to account, and the state collects valuable tax revenues. Put simply, there is currently no way for the state to collect without regulation and certainly no easy way to blockade or educate.
There is a winning alternative, one which has been proved successful across Europe and is now being introduced in other areas of the world, including North America. Speaking on behalf of the most licensed online poker operator in the world, and one who has always put the customer first, it’s reassuring to see momentum growing for regulation across Latin America. Brazil has the opportunity to take the leadership position and in doing so protect its citizens from unscrupulous operators by eradicating the unregulated market, while creating and nurturing sustainable tax revenues that can be reinvested in the future of Brazil.
This is not hyperbole. Look at some of the examples of jurisdictions that have introduced online gaming regulation: the United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Spain, New Jersey and Nevada. Jurisdictions can make regulation work for customers, operators and the state ensuring that everyone is on a level playing field: one that protects customers, rewards operators that play by the rules and penalises those that don’t. Regulation is the only realistic way to turn online gaming into a situation where everyone wins.
Amaya strongly supports the adoption of regulatory regimes and as the most licensed online poker operator in the world we work in successful partnership with many jurisdictions. We welcome the opportunity to share our experience with the Brazilian government to help create a state of the art regulatory framework that works for Brazil and across South America.