As the internet gambling industry is booming worldwide, the time has come for the USA to join the game.
It is estimated that, if state officials were to legalize online gambling sites in the US, the country’s internet casino industry could be worth as much as $8 billion. Meanwhile, land-based casino profits are dropping, not just in Atlantic City, but in Las Vegas too.
At first, companies operating in the gambling industry were afraid of the competition and thought having all the casino games you want at your fingertips will hurt their business. But things have changed and the $8 billion are looking more and more tempting even to companies that already make millions each month. And this is making them reconsider their initial position.
The “Pro” side
MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment are among those casino companies which have expressed their support for the expansion of the online gambling industry. And this is mainly because they want to be part of it.
“Gamers and casinos — those two industries are converging,” MGM chief executive officer Jim Murren told reporters. “We think that’s a good thing. There’s a business opportunity if it’s regulated pristinely, preferably at the federal level,” he added.
Caesars Entertainment is also preparing to join the online casino market. The company now has a spin-off called Caesars Acquisition, which aims to buy internet gambling sites, as well as other products necessary for the new business.
At present, the American land-based casino industry generates over $37 billion a year. It would be foolish to miss out on the opportunity to add another $8 billion to that revenue, so most developers operating gambling venues in the US support the new industry.
Gambling with benefits
MGM Resorts is backing the American Gaming Association and the Poker Players Alliance, both organizations supporting the regulation of internet gambling in the US. According to Murren, the industry should be “absolutely vigilant and tireless” in its battle against illegal websites and having clear laws would definitely benefit all licensed operators.
“From our perspective at MGM, the most important dimension of the debate has to be on law enforcement,” Murren told reporters.
Wynn Resorts chief Steve Wynn initially said he was all for it at first, but has now withdrawn his support.
Last year, his company was actually moving forward with its plans to enter the online gambling market, through UK-based 888 Holdings, which was going to offer internet poker.
However, the casino mogul switched teams in January and joined the online industry’s biggest opponent…
Adelson, the no. 1 enemy
The most vehement opponent of the online gambling industry is none other than Sheldon Adelson, chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands. In an interview with Forbes magazine, the casino king declared war on internet casinos and stated that he was willing to “spend whatever it takes” to stop them from spreading.
Adelson sees these web services as a threat. This is why he created and funded the so-called Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which drafted a federal bill to ban online casinos earlier this year.
The proposal’s main goal is to “restore long-standing United States policy that the Wire Act prohibits Internet gambling to give Congress and the public time to fully examine the issues surrounding Internet gambling, including the potential for money laundering, fraud, terrorism financing, cyber-crimes and participation by minors”.
Online poker coming to town
Whether these guys like it or not, online gambling is gaining terrain in America. The industry is not only flourishing – where it’s legal, that is – but it’s also taking important steps towards expanding nationwide.
Nevada and Delaware have signed groundbreaking deals to regulate interstate gambling. The agreement is for poker sites only, but it’s still a new thing in America and some believe this could serve as a model for future interstate deals.
Other states – including California – are preparing to join New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware in legalizing online casinos, or at least poker sites.
Now it looks like this is direction American gambling laws are taking. And why shouldn’t states start offering online gambling services? On one hand, it opens up a number of new possibilities for consumers and on the other hand, it brings in some extra revenues to the local budget. Whichever way you look at it, online casinos are the future of American gambling.