It was interesting to see that an IPSOS Reid survey published yesterday showed that 63% of Americans believe that internet gambling is legal in the States (compared with 59% two years ago).
Even bearing in mind that 40% of Americans believe in the factual truth of the story of Noah's Ark, that's a big number. And it tells you something about the difficulty of outlawing an activity that Joe Shmo thinks is a perfectly acceptable use of his leisure time.
There isn't any question about the legality of internet gambling in the US, and to our mind, there never has been. The fact that there's so much of it going on that everyone thinks it's legal tells you how ineffective the prohibition is. Even the immigration officer who saw me through Los Angeles airport on Sunday night responded to my answer of 'internet gambling' (to the question, "what business are you in?") with the words, "there's a lot of that these days, isn't there".
My 36 hours in California were spent at TVG, the horseracing channel that we bought in January last year, now run by our Director of Horseracing, Stephen Burn. It was the first time I had visited, and I was impressed by the people I met and excited by what I saw. The offices themselves are a bit tired, but they reminded me a great deal of parts of Television Centre, which in turn brought back some happy memories.
The horseracing industry in the US is mirroring that in much of the world inasmuch as it is casting around for an identity in the modern age of wagering. But - thanks largely to the efforts of Greg Nichols, the former BHB CEO who joined us about four years ago now - there are plenty who are willing to hear our thoughts on how, with proper marketing through our TV channel and attractive wagering propositions through our pari-mutuel business, we can help them stop the recent rot and grow the overall cake.
It makes for exciting times.