European Firms Ready For Legal Online Gambling in the US

European Firms Ready For Legal Online Gambling in the USIn February the prospect of legal online gaming in New Jersey sent the stocks of several European online gambling companies higher on global stock exchanges. European gaming companies hope New Jersey will unlock a market with an estimated value of $1 billion. Christie initially vetoed the online gaming bill but after some revisions were made he signed the bill making online gambling legal in New Jersey. The head of Caesar’s Entertainment which owns a third of Atlantic City’s casinos said that with  “a little luck” online gaming could be up and running in New Jersey in 18 months to two years.

I. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School and a leading gambling expert, said he sees no reason why it will take two years to launch internet gaming in New Jersey. Rose stated “I don’t see any reason it would take 18 months, let alone two years. I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t be up and operating by the end of this year.” One European online gaming firm, 888 Holdings, said that European betting firms already have the experience and technical knowhow that will give them an edge over competitors. When congress passed legislation making it illegal for banks and financial institutions to process gambling transactions most European companies left the US market to avoid conflicts with American regulators and law enforcement.

888 believes that New Jersey or Nevada will be the first states to launch online gambling operations. Nevada plans to limit online gambling to poker only while New Jersey will offer residents online bingo and casino and table games. 888 already operates casino, poker and online bingo games and recently expanded into the Spanish market. 888’s chief executive Brian Mattingley stated “I do believe that the European operators, in particular and ourselves, are best placed to operate within those markets, we’ve already done that.” Mattingley pointed to his company’s recent expansion into Spain and said the experience was “a blueprint for going into new territories.” Mattingley added “I do think that we stand a very very good chance of actually coming out of the blocks very very quickly.”

Mattingley said that recently 888 had signed a deal with Las Vegas operator Treasure Island and plans to offer online poker in Nevada. Several Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos have formed partnerships with experienced European online gaming companies. Mattingley said his company hopes to take “very significant market share” in Nevada once the company secured a Nevada interactive gaming license. For many European firms avoiding conflicts with American regulators is now paying off handsomely.

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