As Las Vegas struggles to make its way out of its economic doldrums — which have been longer and deeper than those in most other parts of North America — business leaders are considering some initiatives that may help bring the bettors back.

Some media sources and gambling experts are discussing one company’s plan to implement mid-game betting — currently not allowed in the U.S., as it is in Europe. More interestingly, though, they’re discussing the possibility of doing so with a new kind of mobile device.

“The only way to properly do this [mid-game betting], however, is not with a window or a line of bookies but rather a handheld electronic tablet, almost like a heavy iPad,” writes Les Carpenter for Yahoo Sports. “And the key to this is a computer network tucked away in a small one-story building not far from an interstate off-ramp. Here the computer churns through 30 years of statistics and trends and situations from every team and every player in every sport, running them though a series of algorithms to determine possibilities.”

“Here the computer instantly decides what the chances are that a football team will have to punt or a baseball player can steal second base, then it spits those odds onto the tablet and the betting is on.”

The technology belongs to Cantor-Fitzgerald, which recently opened a new Las Vegas sports book, the M Resort Spa Casino. And Cantor Gaming’s CEO, Lee Amaitis, is committed to the idea. He didn’t successfully get legislative approval for the plan before the March Madness touraments began — as he’d planned — but the goal remains the same.

And Cantor’s aims exceed sports betting, to casino gaming in general: “Cantor Gaming says it will press the Nevada Legislature this year to allow gambling using the same 21st century technology that surfs the Internet, sends e-mail, views movies and listens to music,” writes Liz Benston at the Las Vegas Sun. “It’s a big leap for a state that only recently allowed gamblers to use handheld gambling devices in select casinos. Gamblers may also bet remotely, but only on sporting events.”

The company has already designed a special “tablet” for bettors to utilize this new technology. The tablet offers betting and statistical updates after every play during a sports game.

“Everything happened so fast,” Carpenter expliains, upon trying the device during an NFL game. “As soon as a play ended, the index of current betting options popped up on the screen. Would the Patriots get a first down on this drive? A couple of taps on the screen eventually revealed we could win $11.53 with a $40 bet saying yes. My friend confirmed the bet just before the ball was snapped. A couple of plays later, Brady hit Wes Welker(notes) with a pass. First down.”

Not so fast
In its drive to get Nevada lawmakers to legalize this new form of gaming, Cantor is arguing that the technology could be expanded to other mobile devices, like Droids and iPads, as opposed to just the tablet the company has created for use in its own casino.

“Allowing gambling on mobile devices outside Nevada casinos could generate tax dollars the state desperately needs,” Benston writes. “But its potential concerns have yet to be considered by the business and political chieftains.”

“Do the big casino companies want customers gambling outside their resorts, away from other temptations to spend money, or, heaven forbid, at a competitor’s shopping mall or restaurant?” Benston continues. “And what of smaller casinos that lack the resources to adopt mobile gambling? Locals could more easily gamble in a big resort’s digital casino from their cell phones than get in their cars and drive to their neighborhood casinos.”

The answer’s probably yes: Last month, the Hard Rock Casino and the Tropicana opened sports books using Cantor’s technology.

Threat to casino affiliate marketing?
Any business will always have its constant stream of challengers, from within the industry and without. While this new technology does potentially represent a threat to Internet betting, it may also help it inthe long run: It may generate more interest in sports betting with the larger public, or inspire bettors to switch to mobile devices whenever and wherever they choose to bet. 

And, if the technology is expanded to everyday mobile devices like the iPhone, that opens the door for other companies to move in and use the technology, too. And it seems certain that online betting companies would seize that opportunity, the first chance they got.

And, most importantly, it’s probably inevitable: “As the rest of the world goes mobile, the industry’s capital should change with it or be left behind,” Amaitis said in the Sun article.

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