Wednesday May 13,2015 : LAND CASINO COMPLICATES PENNSYLVANIA LEGALISATION MOVE (Update)
This smacks of a self-interested tactic to get players to visit the physical casino.
The very promising progress of online gambling legalization bill HB 649 in Pennsylvania could be complicated by what appears to be a self-interested intervention by the land-based Parx Casino, which is reportedly lobbying state lawmakers for the inclusion in future online gambling regulations of in-person registration by players at existing casino licensees.
Executives from the land operator have been open in suggesting that forcing future online punters to register in person at the premises of land casinos offering online gambling will avoid the creation of unwanted competition and protect their investments.
But online experts say that if this requirement is included in the state's online gambling regulations, it will be counter-productive to building a growing, vibrant online industry in the state.
They suggest that such a requirement flies in the face of one of the biggest attractions of online gambling – that of the convenience of being able to register, verify and play on a desktop or mobile device without having to travel to a land location to do so.
Potential internet gamblers located some distance from a land casino would be disinclined to make the journey to register, and those who are physically disadvantaged would find it even more inconvenient, they claim.
In those states where online gambling has already been legalised, operators have repeatedly made the very important point that in their now considerable experience online gamblers constitute a new market for land operators, and do not cannibalise the land offering.
The potentially biggest problem with the Parx proposal, however, is that it is a distraction and potential source of delays and obstacles to the progress of HB649 – the state's main online gambling legalization proposal which is currently at committee stage.
And as we have seen in California, that can derail promising bills for years.
Speaking of California, it should also be noted that even state Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who has proposed a more restrictive online poker legalization measure in that state, has changed his view on the need for in-person registration from mandatory to optional following briefings and presentations by experts which led him to advise:
"I have concluded that online poker would be best served by making in-person registration an option rather than a requirement. State of the art technology currently used by operators in other states when registering players accesses many of the same databases used by financial institutions to verify the identity of registrants and prevent fraud."