Experts Say Internet Gaming No Threat to Land Based Operations

A recent Las Vegas event saw experts discussing whether internet gambling is a benefit or a form of competition to live casino operations. At the event several experts said that internet gambling could actually enhance land based operations. Three of the experts said that the legalization of internet gambling in the United States would enable casino operators to expand their operations and customer base. Experts at the iGaming conference included Jan Jones of Caesars Entertainment, Art Manteris of Station Casinos and Doug Dalton of Bellagio who spoke to the 300 delegates at the gaming conference.

Jan Jones of Caesars Entertainment said that the average gambling customer is about 50 years old and that the younger generation of gamblers makes most of their decisions on the internet. Jones also said that younger players meet and congregate online and make their entertainment. Jones said that if land based casinos do not establish an online presence younger players will make non gambling entertainment choices. Jones cited the newspaper industry, record stores and bookstores as businesses that failed to use online gambling strategies and suffered as a result.

Many newspapers are suffering a decline in subscribers because most of the younger generation uses the internet to gather news and information. Many newspapers provide free online editions supported by advertising to maintain an online presence. Mark Tenner, president of the Consultants Concept Development Group, said that 11 years ago about 250,000 people played online poker and today the number of players is around 65 million. Steve Rittvo, chairman of The Innovation Group, suggested that the online poker market would double within five years of legalization in the United States. The CEO of Red Planet Marketing in Austria, Vahe Baloulian, said that European gaming markets had grown as a result of television advertising.

US gambling laws were also discussed. Gambling industry leaders say that a window of opportunity exists to pass legislation regulating online gaming. A panel at the conference suggested that efforts are being hampered by the inability of the gaming industry to develop a unified strategy. The gaming industry is split whether states or the federal government should regulate online gaming. A majority believe that because the internet is without borders the federal government should regulate online gaming. Some in the gaming industry say that if states adopt different rules and regulations the public would be confused.

Hopefully there will be some changes in US gambling laws in the near future. Most of the experts at the conference said that the online gambling industry needs to present a united front before any effective action can be taken to change US gambling laws.