Legal Online Gambling to be a State Issue Say Experts

A recent meeting of senior executives with US land based gambling groups came to the conclusion that online gambling is the future for the casino industry. The conclusion came shortly after the US government shut down four major poker sites. In addition several sites in a major online bingo network shut down after pressure from US authorities. The executives were part of a 15th East Coast Gaming Congress at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The event was attended by over 600 land based gaming operators, gaming equipment manufacturers, architects, analysts, regulators, attorneys, investors and gambling professionals.

One New Jersey legislator attending the event predicted that there will be a ballot issue next year asking New Jersey residents to amend the state’s constitution to allow online gambling. Earlier the legislature voted to allow online gaming but Governor Christie vetoed the measure saying it violated the state constitution which limits gambling to Atlantic City. News reports said that executives from two online betting organizations and Caesars Entertainment told attendees that the internet will provide the gaming industry with the best opportunities for future growth. an Jones of Caesars Entertainment stated “You’re not going to stop the Internet. You can regulate it, you can put in protections, but it’s going to exist.” Melanie Brenner, president of the USA Online Gaming Association said that about 10 million people in the US play online poker.  Brenner stated “That’s what they look forward to. This is the path to growth for the industry.”

Members of the panel estimated the value of the US online gaming market at nearly $80 billion annually. Some members of the panel said the future of online gambling in the United States lies with the individual states. Chairman of USA Digital Gaming Richard Bronson predicted that many states will approve online gambling soon and said that the recent federal raids against poker and bingo sites makes it unlikely that the federal government will legalize online gaming anytime soon. Bronson stated “I believe strongly there will not be a national online gambling bill passed in the U.S. I’ve yet to find one governor, one legislator, one lottery director that tells me otherwise. They want this to be a state issue.”

New Jersey Assemblyman John Burzichelli said that the New Jersey legislature is in favor of legalized online gambling.  Burzichelli told the audience “Next year there’s probably going to be a question on the ballot to allow Internet gambling. Whether or not New Jersey voters amend the Constitution is up in the air. We came close, and we’re going to do it again. We’re going to take another run at it.” For now it looks like the only hope online bingo sites have is that individual states will legalize online gambling.

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