The “Internet Gambling Report” by Anthony Cabot is one of the most referenced publications in the online gambling industry. So what is it? That’s not an easy question to answer, but it’s safe to say that anyone interested in online gambling — player, provider or pundit — should have a look at it anyway.
The Fourth Edition of IGR is hot off the presses and while the report can be said to be many things, Cabot himself says it best when he labels his 450 page tome “An Evolving Conflict Between Technology, Policy and Law”. That’s exactly what you’ll find inside: in-depth discussions of the technical, practical and legal issues that define the internet gambling industry.
Having said that it’s important to realize that we’re probably talking about one of the most complicated and contested industries on the globe. To tackle this complexity Cabot divides his text into five parts:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Market
Part 3: Business Perspectives
Part 4: Legal, Regulatory and Policy Issues
Part 5: Where From Here?
Part 1 forms the heart of the report wherein Cabot introduces the industry by asking three essential questions: “What is the Internet?”, “What is Gambling?”, “Can Gambling work on the Internet?” As Cabot answers those questions he takes the reader a very long way toward understanding the fundamentals of the entire internet gaming issue in all its legal, technical and business complexities. I cannot recommend Part 1 too highly. It is necessary and sufficient reading for anyone wanting to educate themselves on the basics of this Pragmatic Play industry.
Take for example the issue of casino credibility. How would a casino raise its credibility with players? Cabot provides the following (p.38):
Becoming a public company…
Associating with non-gaming brands and celebrities.
Creating strategic alliances (race tracks or land-based casinos).
Obtaining accountant certifications of their operations.
Being licensed in quality jurisdictions.
He’s hit the nail squarely on the head here, five times in fact. It took me a year of active participation in the industry to learn what he has summarized in less than 50 words.
There are many other examples but I was particularly struck by his insights into probable future trends in online gambling.
“… Internet casinos are beginning to compete based on price … As more sites compete for the patron’s dollars, their odds will become as competitive, and eventually lower [than Vegas].” p.44
What business person isn’t interested in where their industry is going and what competitive moves will be expected of them in the future? Only the unsuccessful ones I’d bet.
Parts 2 through 4 of the IGR feature articles on their various subjects written by guest contributors, occasionally co-written with Cabot. Unlike Part 1, these sections have a definite “anthology” feel to them: even if you’re interested in the specific subject, you may or may not find a given article worthwhile. And the structure that binds the articles together is very loose indeed. The bottom line is that these sections don’t hold a candle to the educational artistry of Part 1, but should be of interest to industry insiders with specific needs.
In the opening to the brief Part 5, “Where From Here?”, Cabot writes:
“One thing is certain when addressing the future of internet gambling: variables overshadow certainties.” p.409
With that sage observation Cabot goes on to summarize those variables and leaves us with a few inconclusive words on possible regulatory options. The moral? His crystal ball isn’t much clearer than anyone else’s.
All things considered The Internet Gaming Report, Fourth Edition is far from perfect. The “Market”, “Business”, and “Legal …” sections (Parts 2 through 4) suffer from the inevitable scatter-shot approach that their anthology format bestows. And as mentioned, “Where From Here?” (Part 5) simply declines to answer its own question.
Despite its imperfections The Internet Gambling Report is the closest thing the online gaming industry has to a Rosetta Stone. Its pages bring together the innumerable related issues in one place, under one guiding hand. As such it will be constantly referenced and quoted in the coming year, as it has been in previous years.