Politics is always in motion when it comes to whether online gaming, including poker, should be legal on a federal- and state-wide basis. Of little surprise, both sides of the battle are engaging in political lobbying firms to help steer change.
According to TheHill.com, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), an anti-online gaming organization funded by The Las Vegas Sands President and CEO and online gaming adversary Sheldon Adelson have hired the political lobbying firm the Keelen Group to help with its legislative battles.
Recently, Adelson has given signs that his group plans to focus more on methods to shut down unregulated online gaming operators servicing the United States rather than what has been the group's primary mission in pushing the Restoring America's Wire Act (RAWA) through Congress, which would ban all internet gaming including in the three states that currently allow regulated operators.
Whether or not this holds true, or is just temporary while a new battle is being fought, is up for debate by many in the industry.
The Keelen Group is a well-known lobbying group the Las Vegas Sands already engages with, led by prominent lobbyists Matthew Keelen, Frank McCarthy, and Stephen Borg. According to the company's website, other big-name clients that have hired the Keelen Group to help with political battles include the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Education Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Late last year, the lobbying firm was listed in the top five of Bloomberg's Top Performing Lobbying Firms.
The Keelen Group is the second lobbying firm hired by CSIG to help with its mission. In May 2015, the group hired Squire Patton Boggs, an international law firm with 45 offices around the world including in New York, Washington D.C., and London.
TheHill.com reported that CSIG paid Squire Patton Boggs' lobbyists $290,000 to help with what was then its mission to make RAWA law of the land.
Amaya Bolsters Arsenal, Too
On the flip side, Amaya Services Ltd., a subsidiary of Amaya Gaming Group Inc., engaged with lobbying firm CSA Strategies to both help fight for internet gaming in general and to permit its gaming companies PokerStars and Full Tilt to be eligible for licenses where gaming is and will be permitted.
Last month, PokerStars triumphantly returned to the United States for the first time since Black Friday took place on April 15, 2011, when it launched its licensed and regulated online gaming site in New Jersey.
According to TheHill.com, former counsel to the House Financial Services Committee Alejandro Urrea is the CSA Strategies representative lobbying on Amaya's behalf.
PokerNews reached out to both Amaya and the Keelen Group for comment on lobbying efforts, but did not receive responses.