Posted 3/23/11 : South Point owner speaks out for legalization
Supporters of the current attempt to legalise intrastate Nevada online poker will be heartened by this week's outspoken support for the idea from 68-year-old Michael Gaughan, owner of the South Point hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
Gaughan told Associated Press Tuesday that he thinks the Silver State should be the first in the country to explicitly allow Internet poker because it's inevitable that online gambling is coming.
In doing so, Gaughan is taking an opposite view to that of major Las Vegas groups like Caesars Entertainment, which support the concept of legalised online gambling but only through a federal legislative approach.
Gaughan told the news agency that he hasn't partnered with any online casino companies, and doesn't think Nevada bill AB258 introduced recently by Assemblyman William Horne will significantly help his casino on Las Vegas Boulevard.
The bill seeks to allow the Nevada Gaming Commission to regulate and license online gaming, and is supported by online poker giant, PokerStars.
“There is no doubt in my mind that online poker and other games are coming,” Gaughan said. “AB 258 would make us a pioneer in the nationwide movement and the leader for the rest of the country to emulate.” He went on to say that he believes such a move could create both employment opportunities and millions of dollars in tax revenues.
The Nevada bill comes against a background where legislators in Iowa, New Jersey, California and Florida have been active in pushing for intrastate legalization, and where Congressmen Frank and Campbell have just launched a renewed federal attempt to legalise the pastime in the United States.
Nevada supporters of the Horne bill say the state's experience in regulating gambling makes it a logical centre for a legalised industry.
Gaughan said he doesn't mind online poker giants like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker being allowed to participate in a Nevada system.
"I don't think you should eliminate any one group of people," Gaughan said. "If you have an open bill, you have an open bill. I hate to see a monopoly on anything."
The gambling veteran said he prefers the state route because he believes it would be better for the smaller casinos in Nevada.
"The [last] federal bill was pro Harrah's and MGM, and wanted to keep everyone else out," Gaughan said. "I don't want the big places to wind up with it, and the little guys can't get it. Pass the bill and let the chips fall where they may. I think a state bill opens it up for everybody."