December 9, 2011 : "I do believe in 2012 there will be legal online poker in at least two or three states," says industry exec
Richard Bronson, the former Wynn Resorts exec who now heads turnkey online gambling provider US Digital Gaming, says the prospects for legalised online poker in the United States next year are good.
Speaking to the publication Capital New York, Bronson confirmed his company has invested $75 000 over the past year with lobbyist Patricia Lynch Associates.
Bronson said from his Beverley Hills office that he doubted federal legalization would be achieved, and that his company's approach over the past three years has been to brief and encourage lawmakers in individual states to pursue intrastate online poker legalization.
Bronson told Capital New York that recent moves by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to introduce [land] table gambling to the state in order to generate tax revenues was a positive for online gambling initiatives
“Here’s the bottom line,” said Bronson. “When Steve Wynn and I were in business 20 years ago and going around the country and talking to states to legalize casinos, it was like abortion or the death penalty, a highly controversial subject.
“Today it’s not even controversial anymore in that regard. States now look at gaming revenue as legitimate revenue sources. There are currently 23 states that have full casino gambling.”
Bronson revealed that U.S. Digital Gaming has been talking about the legalization of online gaming in New York state for the better part of a year now, relying on states' rights to pass intrastate law.
“These are states' rights issues, meaning Tenth Amendment states' rights issues,” he said. “Just like gay marriage will never be legalised on a national level, and the sale of marijuana will never be legalised on a national level, but can be legalised on a state-by-state level.”
Morgan Stanley estimates that the U.S. online gaming industry is worth $14 billion annually. Assuming taxpayers got a 25 percent share, that would amount to an additional $3.5 billion in revenue, said Bronson. He observed that several states have also begun selling online lottery tickets, and that states like Iowa and New Jersey are looking at legalising at least some aspects of online gambling.
U.S. Digital Gaming aims to be part of any legalization, offering a turnkey technology system that includes efficient age-verification technology and geo-location software to ensure that non-residents don’t partake in an activity that is illegal in their own state. U.S. Digital can also provide games, along with financial handling technology.
Deep pocket investors behind the company include Steven Roth, the chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, and Herbert Simon, of Simon Property Group, America's largest real estate company.
“They all know this is a marathon and not a sprint,” said Bronson. “But I do believe, and we’ve been at this almost three years, I do believe in 2012 there will be legal online poker in at least one or two or three states in the U.S. I know it. I’m sure of it. It’s been coming down the pipe here. And that’s what’s going to happen.”