Nevada and its casino operators stand to lose billions in casino and tax revenue if implementation of rules allowing the firms to operate Web casinos are delayed, a gaming industry analyst said this week.
“I respect the concerns of Park Place and Harrah’s about bringing gambling into the home,” said Sebastian Sinclair, vice president and Internet gambling industry analyst for Christiansen Capital Advisors.
“I differ because I recognize the inevitability of Internet gambling,” Sinclair said. “I would be selling shares in these companies because they’re not representing the interest of their shareholders.”
Park Place Chief Executive Officer Tom Gallagher declined to respond to Sinclair’s remark.
But Harrah’s spokesman Gary Thompson said the company always keeps the interests of its shareholders in mind.
“We’re not going to make decisions rashly, because we have some specific concerns about Internet gaming,” Thompson said, mentioning questions about the reliability of technology Internet casinos would use to keep children from gambling and worries that cybercasinos would violate states’ rights to prohibit their citizens from betting. “Until those issues are resolved, we’re not going to just jump in.”
Sinclair’s comments came as about 500 Internet casino operators, software developers and industry analysts attended the first Interactive Gaming Expo on Thursday and Friday at Bellagio.
Nevada Gaming Control Board member Scott Scherer said he thinks Park Place and Harrah’s executives are being responsible, not wanting to risk their dozens of land-based casinos.
“They have billions in investments in bricks and mortar casinos,” Scherer said. “Am I glad (MGM Mirage plans on operating a Web casino from the Isle of Man)? No. We’d prefer they stay in the state. But they’re free to go, as long as they (comply with all applicable laws).”
Las Vegas gaming lawyer Tony Cabot said that because major Nevada best online casino singapore operators have different interests he expects the firms to support different strategies for the state’s move toward regulating Web casinos.
State lawmakers passed a bill in June allowing the Nevada Gaming Commission to craft rules allowing state casino operators to operate Internet casinos, providing key conditions were met. The commission must decide that Nevada-based Web casinos comply with all applicable federal and state laws.
Cabot said he expects Las Vegas locals-casino operators to lobby in favor of “a go-slow approach.”
The locals operators will advocate that the state only allow intrastate Web casino betting, bets from within Nevada’s borders, Cabot predicted.
Cabot anticipates that operators with a broad domestic market with no interest in expanding internationally will come out against Web gambling.
A third group, domestic operators with an interest in international expansion, will support Internet gambling on the fullest basis possible, he said.
Eugene Christiansen, chief executive officer of Christiansen Capital Advisors, said the different positions taken by casino executives on Internet gambling illustrates the murkiness of the issue.
“On almost any other issue, two casino executives given the same choices would make the same decision,” Christiansen said. “Here you have chief executives who’ve come to different conclusions about how shareholders are served. It’s pretty clear that Terry Lanni has called it differently than (Harrah’s Chairman) Phil Satre. But I think both men have their shareholders’ interests at heart.”
But Christiansen’s subordinate Sinclair was blunter.
“Terry Lanni’s going to eat everybody else’s lunch,” Sinclair said.
Advised of Sinclair’s forecast, Park Place’s Gallagher cited an anecdote from his time working for Merv Griffin at Resorts International in Atlantic City.
“Whenever I hear someone make a foolish comment it reminds me of a story a few years back in the middle of a dispute between Merv Griffin and Donald Trump,” Gallagher said.
“Trump wrote a nasty letter to Griffin, and Griffin wrote a letter back. ‘It’s obvious some idiot’s gotten hold of your stationery,’ Griffin wrote. Trump had the class to respond by writing: `You’re right, some idiot did get hold of my stationery.’ ”