US casinos see split over the legislation to legalize online gambling in the country. With casinos either choosing to embrace the virtual future of internet gaming, others are fighting back, causing a rift down the fabric of US casino culture.
As Las Vegas Sands Casino frontman Sheldon Adelson kicks up a fuss about the launch of online casinos, setting up his very own campaign to nip online wagering in the bud, casinos looking to embrace the 21st century are fighting back.
Experts are placing their bets on the future of internet gambling and mobile casinos, and with three states already live online, and ten considering the move, is Adelson fighting a losing battle?
Reaping the benefits of moving online
Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have already entered the uncharted waters of online gambling in the US, and ten more states are looking to also enter the virtual world of internet gaming.
Under the current economic crisis, it’s easy to see why states are being seduced by the promises of the online gambling industry, but the American Gaming Association estimated that legalizing online poker would give states a fraction of what they already get from their lotteries.
California estimates that it would receive a revenue income of $100 million to $250 million per year, but that income would be instantly swallowed up by the dent in the state budget short fall, which currently lies at $9.2 billion.
However, even though online gambling won’t solve all the economic problems in California, it’s a figure not to be sniffed at.
“Two hundred and fifty million dollars buys you a lot of teachers,” comments State Senator Lou Correa, “The budget deficit is tremendous, but you take $500 million here, $ 500 million there, and pretty soon you’re talking serious money.”
Although, others feel that the question of limited revenue stems from certain states only looking to legalize online poker only, which only produces a small percentage in income. Games like roulettes and slots tend to have their odds stacked in the casino’s favor.
However, many believe that poker will bring in more money than expected. Since most players turn to unsavory online sites that require players to undertake a leap of faith that they’ll be paid or that the cards are shuffled correctly.
A regulated online poker site in the US would certainly attract a lot of players as a result.
Legalizing online gambling does have its advantages, since states would gain a much-needed additional source of income, but certain casino owners and those set against gambling are campaigning to put a stop to the online move.
Lobbying against the net
Online gambling facts:
• The first real-money casino was offered by MicroGaming in 1997.
• In the UK alone, over 3 million people gamble each year.
• Poker and bingo are the most popular forms of online gaming.
• There are two types of online casinos, those that are web-based and are ready to play, and those that are downloadable.
Sheldon Adelson has been throwing his proverbial toys out of the pram where online gambling is concerned. The billionaire and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands casino has been using his money and influence to stop the online move.
His Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling launched its first commercial citing the dangers of internet gaming. The ad is a no-expense-spared campaign that cost Adelson up to six-figures.
“Right now, disreputable gaming interests are lobbying hard to spread internet gambling across the country,” warns the ad.
The case put against online gambling by Adelson emphasizes the dangers of money laundering by criminals and terrorists, and it looks like Adelson is willing to put his money where is mouth is and will spend “whatever it takes” to stop it.
While there are those who express concern over the dangers of online gambling, like those who are prone to addiction, but with Adelson and other casino owner’s case, it’s clear the campaign is motivated by self-interest.
Casino owners against online gambling are concerned about the fact that the move will not only cause online casinos in the US to cut into their profits, but would also encourage the corruption in the industry.
However, it appears that casinos are experiencing a clear division where online gambling is concerned.
The fight for change
Adelson might have become vocal in his bid to stop online gambling, but those opposing him have also formed their own group.
The Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection is poised to fight Adelson and company back with its own six-figure ad campaign to catch the attention of decision makers in Washington.
“The coalition will operate exclusively at the federal level — encouraging Congress to embrace regulation as the best means to protect minors, detect money launderers and eliminate a dangerous black market,”said American Gaming Association president Geoff Freeman.
Until now, most of those in the US looking to gamble from home have had very few options, with many turning to unsavory foreign sites, especially since the government crackdown in 2011.
While many states are favoring the move online, many are looking to contain the online gambling market, by legalizing gambling sites to operate only within their own borders, thereby controlling the sites and the players, not to mention the revenue.
The casino lobby opposing Adelson’s group have made the legalization of online gambling as its main goal this year, with large-scale casinos like Caesars Entertainment Corporation making moves into the market.
It’s going to be hard to stop the online move of casinos and the launch of gambling sites, especially in the current technological environment.
The financial appeal is a big draw for most casinos, especially since Morgan Stanley predict that by 2020 the US online gambling market will have the same amount of revenue as the current Atlantic City and Las Vegas markets combined at $9.3 billion.
But for now, we’re going to have to sit back and see how the casinos play out against each other.