LAS VEGAS: A lack of federal legislation to legalize online-casino betting poses risks to the dozens of firms chasing the business, industry insiders said on a panel at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
Two states, Nevada and Delaware, have legalized online betting, and six others might do so in the next year, according to James Kilsby, Americas editor of GamblingCompliance.com, an online publisher. It’s unclear whether Congress will pass a comprehensive legislation in 2012, he said.
“We are an industry that depends on luck, and right now, we’d have to be very lucky to have it happen this year,” Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., president of the American Gaming Association trade group, said on the panel.
Europe’s online gaming industry has evolved on a patchwork basis with countries such as France, Italy and Spain creating their own regulations and prohibiting bets from other countries, according to Alen Lang, director of development at Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc, the largest publicly traded online gambling company.
Rolling out online gambling on a state-by-state basis or a country-by-country basis increases costs for operators and reduces the amount of money available for players to win, Lang said.
“It’s tough; there are real risks. America’s about to make the same mistakes we made,” Lang said, referring to Europe.
Bwin, which left the U.S. market in 2006 after federal legislation that prohibited online betting, has partnered with MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming Corp., to offer Internet wagering in states where it is allowed to do so.
“It’s been an obsession of ours to get back in,” to the United States, Lang said.
Mark Lipparelli, former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said 35 companies have applied for online gaming licenses in Nevada and he expects online poker betting to begin in the state by the first quarter of next year.