Gambling industry analysts expect the United States online gambling marketplace to reach $10 billion in annual sales as early as 2017. That estimate comes in spite of the fact that no state in the US has yet to actually offer any form of legalized online gambling since the Department of Justice changed their stance on the legalities of gambling online. Nevada and Delaware have each legalized online poker and a full slate of online gambling offerings respectively since that the DOJ flip-flop, but both states are still in the approval and licensing process currently. But that has not stopped major US casino operations from rushing to understand and fully embrace Internet gaming.
Many brick-and-mortar casino operators are joining forces with legal online gaming websites, developers and software companies, even as the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) continues to hand out approvals for interactive gaming licenses in that state. Companies which own land based casinos have years of experience in offering gambling and gaming, with little to no experience online. The opposite is true for companies with gaming experience in the virtual world, so agreements between two such experienced gaming companies makes sense for everyone involved. It also calls for faster approval from the NGC, since they can easily analyze operations which virtual and land-based gaming operators have already been running successfully for years.
Brian Gamache is the chief executive of slot machine maker WMS Industries Inc, who has also been awarded a Nevada interactive gaming license, and he stated at this year’s annual Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas that it is important for companies to convert “the 25 to 35 year old to becoming participants” in the upcoming online gambling industry. He and other industry executives, as well as NGC officials, have stressed the importance for getting safeguards in place for combating fraud, underage and compulsive gambling, money laundering and security issues before actually offering virtual gambling.
Developer Playstudios is a company that was founded by Wynn Resorts exec Andrew Pascal, and they have teamed up with MGM in order to offer online slots, poker, blackjack and other traditional casino games for money in the states which passed some form of legalized gambling in the US. And social networking giant Facebook recently delivered an online game in Britain that allows Internet gaming for money, as it is legal in the UK. Similar partnerships will almost certainly pop up here in the US as more and more companies receive interactive gaming licenses.
MGM chief executive Jim Murren referred to the drastic negative impact that online retailing giant Amazon had on traditional brick-and-mortar retail outlets when he stated that, “We will not be Amazoned.” He went on to state that he is certain that his company and others in this new age of Internet gambling in the US “can make money on this and are embracing it as an opportunity.” Obviously large and seasoned casino operations would prefer one standard federal regulation governing online gambling in the United States, but until that happens, companies like International Game Technology and Bally Technologies which have received interactive gaming Nevada licenses are moving forward to stake their claim in the multibillion-dollar marketplace that exists on the state level.