Thursday May 30,2013 : GAMBLING INDUSTRY NEEDS TO BE MORE COHESIVE, SAY U.S. EXPERTS
 
Attempts at online gambling legalization at federal level have failed due to industry indecisiveness.
 
This week's International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking in Las Vegas produced some interesting insights and opinion on the internet gambling issue as industry experts and lobbyists discussed why federal legalization has so far failed to gain traction.
 
One lobbyist blamed the lack of progress on industry ambivalence regarding what it wanted and how to achieve it, resulting in the current surge of state-by-state legalization attempts.
 
One former politician said that a major error had also been the lack of appropriate acknowledgement of how important it is to get state lottery directors and tribal gambling groups – both powerful and influential elements – on board.
 
Consequently, the industry was indecisive and sent too many "mixed signals" to politicians.
 
A panel comprising Lobbyist Jon Porter, former Nevada regulator Mark Lipparelli and Ultime Gaming chairman Tom Breitling explored the internet gaming issue in depth for delegates, examining the possible synergies with traditional land gambling companies. Breitling revealed that 50 percent of players registered at the new Nevada-licensed online poker site operated by his company had come from the firm's land casino interests, and that cross-marketing was actively being pursued to mutual advantage.
 
Breitling also revealed that his company is seeking partnership possibilities with Atlantic City licensees that would allow the Nevada-licensed Ultimate Poker to gain a foothold in the newly regulated New Jersey online gambling market.
 
The panel was unanimous in its desire for a federal, rather that state-by-state, resolution of the legalization issue, with Porter opining that a new federal initiative is due soon and will probably be an attachment to another bill rather than a standalone proposal – an opinion shared by many industry insiders
 
Lipparelli warned that in the absence of a federal bill, individual states are forging ahead with their own legalization initiatives.
 
The panel agreed that internet gambling is here to stay, and the question now is how, rather than if, it should be regulated.
 
In related news, the publication Vegas Inc reported on another subject raised at the International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking conference – the efficacy of anti-problem gambler software.
 
High profile UK academic, Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University and Andreas Holmstrom, CEO of Sweden-based Playscan, talked about the value of making players aware of how much they are gambling.
 
Mentor, a relatively new software program, enabled punters to assess whether their gaming patterns were becoming hazardous by serving up data on money spent and hours played, comparing this with normal average rates, Griffiths revealed.
 
He also discussed Neccton, a software developed in the UK and currently in use in Germany which sends messages to players when they reach pre-set levels of time or money wagered.
 
Griffiths stressed that both softwares do not make value judgements or confront the punter, but provide factual information which is a reminder and a statistical base on which a rational self-assessment can be made.
 
Holmstrom  spoke about the similar and now well-established Playscan software developed in Sweden seven years ago and in use by the state-owned online gambling operator in that country.
 
Again based on individual player stats, the software presents colour-coded graphics in green, yellow and red to indicate elevated risk levels and behaviours by a player.
 
"The biggest challenge is to get players to use the system – and to read the messages once they get them," Holmstrom said.
 
Using tracking technology, researchers have determined that 40 percent of Playscan's users have followed recommendations sent in messages to contact external resources about problem gambling.