One of the arguments for legalizing online poker in the United States has long been that it would generate much-needed revenue for the U.S. government through a regulation and licensing structure. Studies have shown that tens of billions of dollars could be raised in such a way, but the latest report comes directly from members of Congress and the Joint Committee on Taxation. And the number is directly in line with other estimates, as the Committee showed that up to $42 billion could be raised through online gaming over the next decade.
The first major study pertaining to possible U.S. revenue from online gaming regulation was conducted in 2007 by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and it calculated a number greater than $40 billion in a ten-year period. But a new study in 2009 from the same company showed a 22 percent increase in that number, as it determined that $51.9 billion could be raised. Despite anti-gaming laws like the UIGEA, more people have joined the world of online gaming in the last two years, and the potential reversal of the UIGEA would bring even more people into the fold.
The latest analysis was conducted by the Joint Committee on Taxation led by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), one of the members of Congress who has long supported the regulation and taxation of online gaming. The numbers released showed that online gaming by licensed operators would generate up to $42 billion over the next ten years. The number differs from the aforementioned $51.9 billion estimated by PricewaterhouseCoopers because it respected the current prohibition on internet sports betting.
McDermott has taken an active role in promoting pro-gaming legislation, as he introduced H.R. 2268, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act in May of 2009 to compliment Rep. Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009 (H.R. 2267) (). Believing that the industry would be safer with a regulated system, McDermott hopes to legalize the online gaming industry in the U.S. and subsequently tax it via the U.S. Treasury.
Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative spokesman Michael Waxman commented on the study: “This analysis further reinforces the fact that a regulated environment will generate billions in new revenue to offset the costs of health care reform or other vital government programs. With the completed analysis, and support for Internet gambling regulation growing daily, it’s only a matter of time before Congress acts and begins allocating the billions in new revenue sitting on the table to one program or another. We believe this tax revenue analysis will encourage immediate discussions and consideration of pending legislation to regulate Internet gambling.”