Net Neutrality could potentially affect online gambling

Net Neutrality is in jeopardy due to an upcoming panel discussion with the Federal Communications Commission to potentially change existing laws. Net Neutrality allows anyone who pays for internet access to have the freedom to choose whatever sites they wish to visit regardless of internet provider or device used. Changes to Net Neutrality would legally allow for internet service providers (ISPs) within the U.S., companies like AT&T, Comcast or Verizon, to slow down their service and even block the content of certain sites for internet users.

Back in 2015, millions of activists forced the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt historic Net Neutrality rules to keep the internet free and open to its users – allowing for the exchange of information without extra cost or interference. However, the Trump administration’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, wishes to restrict this freedom and essentially eliminate Net Neutrality altogether.

Back in May of this year, the FCC voted to let Pai’s internet-killing plan to move forward. This was not without opposition however, as the FCC was flooded with over 20 million comments from angry internet users throughout the country. Most people wish to preserve the existing Net Neutrality rules because killing it would essentially destroy the open internet as we know it. The FCC plans to vote on the issue within the coming weeks, and millions of Americans still have a chance to voice their opposition before the proposal is reviewed. Were Net Neutrality destroyed it could have potentially dire consequences for the online gambling community as well. ISPs could choose to eliminate access to certain websites, including online casino sites at their discretion. The online gambling industry along with its subscribers would take a huge hit in the process.

Title II of the Communications Act essentially gives internet users the strongest protections possible within the U.S. Yet Chairman Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, wants it changed. Many strongly disagree with his intentions, and state that his plans would disrupt the progression of ideas and technology, social movements and expanding businesses. Killing the act would essentially limit free speech and the exchange of ideas, directly going against the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.

Caesars Entertainment to sell real estate for capital

Caesars Entertainment has been having a rough year. The casino conglomerate recently managed to pull itself out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and is now ready to bounce back on its feet by acquiring new assets. As part of its plan to get out of the hole, Caesars has taken to selling some its renowned properties to help with the financial burdens. Recently, it announced that it would be selling Harrah’s Las Vegas real estate to VICI Properties. A huge money-making deal set to gross Caesars Entertainment $1.14 billion in cash. Despite the big sale, Caesars is looking to lease back its former property for a yearly rent of roughly $88 million.

The new funds acquired by CE will help finance its acquisition of Centaur Holdings and two Indiana horseracing casinos, Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand. According to public records the two tracks generated a combined gross revenue of nearly half a billion dollars in the year prior. Caesars current CEO, Mark Frissora, has stated that the landmark real estate sale will allow the company to chase new growth possibilities without the burden of collecting new debt.

Caesars’ bankruptcy was notoriously called the “largest and most complex bankruptcy in a generation” according to the huge legal team involved with the case. Its filing managed to cut out $10 billion of its whopping $18 billion debt. In exchange, the creditors owed the money gained ownership of an REIT, the real estate investment trust formed in conjunction after bankruptcy was declared.

The REIT currently owns 18 Caesars properties including the acclaimed Caesars Palace, Caesars in Atlantic City and Bally’s. Unique tax considerations are associated to the trust in question, which must distribute as much as 90 percent of its income to shareholders and investors. Caesars is not the first to take part in such a trust however due to stagnant performance in recent years. The impact of online casinos on brick and mortar establishments has been large’ so CE most likely won’t be the last. Despite never going bankrupt, MGM Resorts has created a similar real estate trust, called MGM Growth Properties. This was done as a countermeasure against financial strains and distributed ownership of its 10 properties, including the famed Mandalay Bay. Despite setbacks in recent years, Caesar’s stakeholders remain confident for long-term projections despite mixed reactions from some investors. The new cash assets also allow for Caesars to build a 300,000-square-foot convention center on 18 acres adjacent to the Harrah’s property.

B.C. Attorney-General takes tough stance on casino crime

In recent years, Vancouver’s authorities have been struggling to keep the city’s illegal gambling activities and casino money laundering in check. The “Vancouver Model”, as it has come to be known, refers to the millions of dollars laundered through British Columbia’s casinos. According to New Democratic Party member and Attorney-General David Eby, regulations have not been strict enough within the province to ensure that organized crime is not involved, even with legitimate enterprises such as the local casinos. Eby recently spoke at an anti-corruption law conference in Vancouver, and vowed to take actions to set up stricter measures against the enterprise of money laundering within the province; claiming that “our international reputation is on the line.”

Eby lays the blame on his predecessor, the Liberal government that held power for 16 years before he took office in spring, claiming that he was outraged when he learned of the gravity of the corruption in his beloved province. Intelligence experts claim that money laundering is nothing new to Vancouver, and that the various organized crime groups within the area have had their hands in legitimate enterprises such as the local casinos for some time now.

Eby’s announcements about the prior administration’s “lax attitude towards this issue” comes at a time when British Columbia is looking to redevelop its image internationally with serious attempts to cutout illegal activities including the aforementioned money laundering episodes. Eby wants to send a message to the crime groups that his party will under no circumstances accept such behavior within the community, and will not be an ally to organized crime.

British Columbia’s gambling industry brings substantial revenues to the region – with an estimated $1.3-billion in profits seen this year along. Despite voicing his opinions on the matter in the past before taking position as the Attorney-General, Eby has claimed that the huge source of cash may have hindered the former government’s efforts to crack down on the illegal activities despite red flags.

Frank West is a bit of an itinerant gambler. An avid traveler and freelance writer with a penchant for games of chance, Frank has hit the tables in casinos the world over and picked up a copious volume of knowledge along the way. Frank enjoys passing on what he’s learned in blog and magazine articles about gambling and teaching people how to beat the house. He also covets his privacy, authoring his articles only under the pen name Frank West.
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