Friday May 2,2014 : PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATS BRIEFED ON INTERNET GAMBLING
Experts tell politicians that online gambling can be effectively regulates, and that the genre will not "cannibalise" land gambling revenues.
Opponents of legalised online gambling in Pennsylvania received another setback Thursday when experts gave generally positive briefings to lawmakers in a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing.
Kevin O'Toole, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board gave a professional presentation to support his conclusion after an extensive study that online gambling can be effectively regulated and controlled, and that geolocation technology is reliable and effective.
Addressing practical elements of licensing, regulation and taxation, O'Toole recommended that should legislators decide to legalise intrastate online gambling, licensing should be confined to existing land casino operators in the Keystone State.
O'Toole appears to be in favour of including "bad actor" clauses in any legalization, suggesting that lawmakers should make provision against unsuitable applicants such as those with "inappropriate associations."
His observations also covered more obvious requirements such as protections against under-age or problem gambling, fairness and security, the prevention of money laundering, responsible gaming measures and general consumer protection.
Another scare tactic continually presented by anti-online gambling organisations – that the new genre will eat into the business of land casinos – was also discounted at the hearing when Caesars Entertainment senior vice president David Satz joined other land-based executives in asserting that online gambling was an opportunity for the land-based sector and not a threat.
Proving his point, Satz said that 91 percent of Caesars online punters in New Jersey were not in the player base of the land casino interests of the group, and that those that were recorded as land players had actually increased their brick and mortar participation by 11 percent.
“This idea that online poker is somehow going to cannibalize has no factual basis,” Satz opined, adding his experience on the issue to that of other land industry executives like Tom Ballance of the Borgata, who has in the past said that 85 percent of his online gambling players were not previously in the land database .
Schott Bohrer and Manu Gambhir, managing partners at Thrive Gaming said that the Pennsylvanian online gambling market has the potential to generate $450 million in GGR, presenting significant tax revenue potential once a legalised market matures and the lack of consumer awareness has been addressed.
That potential could be enhanced if lawmakers made it possible for Pennsylvania to become a hub for US online gambling, attracting business and creating jobs, especially if any legalization provisions allowed for interstate compacts.
Other generally positive presentations came from GeoComply, the Poker Players Alliance, Gambling Compliance and problem gambling organisations.
Bob Green, the chairman of the Parx Casino and Racing corporate testified that in his view online gambling is an evolutionary and logical step forward in the gambling industry, but he made the rather startling suggestion that the traditional industry business practice of software providers sharing in operational revenues should be discouraged through Pennsylvanian legalization.
The consensus from several reports on the proceedings indicate that the evidence was positive for online gambling, but that the knowledge – or lack thereof – of the subject among lawmakers was cause for concern and may need to be addressed more vigorously.