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Regulated Internet Poker Less Likely for Nevada

February 15, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – The attempt by some gambling interests in California to legalize and regulate online poker is one of the industry’s top stories, as are the stories of a handful of other states seeking to do the same — namely, regulate and tax online gambling to add more revenue to recession-strapped state budgets.

However, a recent report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal suggests that Nevada, America’s gambling hotspot, is unlikely to follow this lead in attempting to regulate Internet poker and online gambling.

One obvious reason is that many traditional land-based casino companies are opposed to the idea of online gambling, feeling that it’s a form of competition. And that’s especially unwelcome in this time of economic turmoil, when Las Vegas and other gambling centers are struggling financially.

Harrah’s is the notable exception; the world’s leading casino company has figured out that the online gambling market holds significant promise as an additional revenue channel, and the company is treating the Internet as an opportunity rather than a threat. Last year, the company hired a top onling gambling executive to lead its Internet efforts, and has signed deals in the European markets to get its online brand up and running. Harrah’s is also lobbying heavily in Washington to repeal the U.S. online gambling ban, which exists for the most part in the form of the UIGEA (2006’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). When the U.S. market opens, Harrah’s will be ready.

However, most other Vegas brands are taking the opposite approach, and fighting the concept of legalized online gambling because of the competition it represents.

There are other reasons for Nevada to be resistant to legalized online poker. “There are not enough players in Nevada to make this more than marginally beneficial,” University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor Bill Thompson was quoted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal article by Howard Stutz. “I still believe a player in Nevada, unless you’re homebound, would prefer to drive 10 miles and play with real people.”

“Thompson said there is no way Nevada would reach California’s potential Internet poker player market,” Stutz writes, referring to the recent study by the GBGC (Global Betting and Gaming Consultants) claiming that California could net some $650 million over the next five years if it regulates Internet poker. Read more about that study here.

“MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said it makes more sense for Nevada to become the host regulatory location for Internet poker worldwide rather than legalizing Internet poker for its residents,” Stutz adds.

Considering many are predicting that the U.S. may legalize online gambling on a state-by-state basis rather than try to repeal the UIGEA, the possibility of Nevada not participating raises interesting questions.

Click here to read the original article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.