During the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas this week, several representatives from some of the largest casino operators expressed their confidence in the future of the gambling industry. Continued expansion into global markets like Asia was one reason for the optimism. The other, the bright future of online gambling.
Executives from MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and International Game Technology were among the panelists discussing a variety of topics addressing the future of the industry. As the subject turned to online gambling, the members of the panel had several different opinions.
Michael Leven, COO of the Sands, represented his CEO Sheldon Adelson by opposing the legalization of online gambling due to the effects it could have on a brick-and-mortar casino’s profitability. He also stated a concern regarding difficulty in controlling underage gambling in an online arena. As writtten in the recently published Las Vegas Review Journal article, Adelson has openly questioned “the industry’s desire for federal regulation of online poker, warning that federal oversight could lead to over-regulation and cut into profits.”
Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts, disagrees with Adelson. “No doubt there are risks that exist,” Murren said. “We prefer it happen on a federal level.” He goes on to explain that a state-by-state regulation patchwork would be less desirable than a consistent federal regulation and oversight. Murren expressed a “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality with regards to online gambling, saying that MGM is “embracing [online gambling] as an opportunity”, and not something to be intimidated by.
Patti Hart,CEO of International Game Technology, agreed. “The gaming industry has done incredibly well in reinventing itself several times,” Hart said, and then went on to encourage land-based casinos to rise to the challenge.
While several of the panelists believe legalizing only online poker will hurt smaller markets, they believe Las Vegas will remain relatively unaffected by the proposed legislation.