Thursday November 1, 2012 : U.S. STATES TALK ABOUT COMBINING IN A LEGAL ONLINE POKER MARKET
MGM exec says some US states are discussing alliances with each other to create a more viable internet gambling environment
MGM chief executive Jim Murren discussed the evolving probability of legalised online gambling in the United States in an interview with the Reuters news agency Wednesday, asserting that some American states are talking with each other to forge alliances to create a viable interactive gambling market.
Murren was also optimistic that his company's application for a Nevada online poker licence would be successful, enabling MGM to compete in a market that could be worth around $10 billion a year just five years from now.
Reuters says that Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are among the leading states that have moved or are moving toward interactive gaming, although the United States as a whole lags behind other nations, with the American Gaming Association advising that 85 countries have legalised online gambling.
Around $35 billion is being bet worldwide online each year, including by millions of people in the United States despite its anti-online gambling political stance.
"We are encouraged to know that states are talking to one another. They are crafting their own legalization and legal frameworks but are talking with other states in anticipation of compacting with multiple states," Murren told the news agency.
"We feel strongly that if it is in fact state by state, the states themselves need to compact with one another to create a more viable business model. Any one state going on its own presents an economic challenge, particularly in a small state like Nevada."
An interstate compact is an agreement between two or more states for the purpose of improving some shared resource, and generally requires the consent of Congress.
Murren said officials from New Jersey and Nevada are among those who have had discussions, whilst MGM spokesman Alan Feldman said at least a dozen states are talking to each other on the issue.
The MGM exec pointed out that technology and financial safeguards against under-aged and problem gamblers, along with measures to verify the location of online gamblers could easily be implemented for broader markets if states reached compacts.
MGM itself has signed a partnership agreement with established and competent online gambling firm Bwin.party Digital Entertainment to further its plans should online poker be legalised.
Reuters notes that whilst Murren and other land casino leaders prefer a federal legalization solution, the chances of such an initiative passing in the current Congress are decreasing by the day, and the Reid-Kyl bill is running short on time for this session.