Online Gambling is Booming

The casinos of Las Vegas were designed to make gaming more lucrative and even more appealing than it already was. Today, the casino industry still depends on gambling to make money.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board estimates that 70 percent of the state’s $2.5 billion in revenue came from gambling in 2014, and gaming is responsible for 40 percent of Nevada’s jobs. But the industry is in decline as other activities replace gambling as a way to spend money in Las Vegas.

According to the most recent estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 1.1 million jobs in the Las Vegas area, but 1.7 million of those are from the hotel, motel and restaurant industries. By comparison, there are only about 650,000 jobs in the state of New York, but more than a million of those are in the entertainment and recreation sector.

Gambling is Growing

The fact that gambling is growing so much while the general economy isn’t growing, it makes for a big problem for me,” said state Sen. Tick Segerblom, who was among those seeking to ban online gambling from entering the state. “People don’t see the huge difference between a casino and the street. People can’t see that the casinos provide jobs and support for their communities.”

It was already a controversial issue in Nevada, as lawmakers in 2006 tried to shut down the state’s two-year-old online casino, then called Internet Gaming Corporation. But the Nevada Gaming Control Board did not allow online gambling to enter the state until 2011.

More of those types of gambling, including lotteries and lottery-like games, are allowed in states like Delaware and Massachusetts. Pennsylvania allows a host of games, including a lottery, online.

Other states, like Alabama, Georgia and Utah, have specific restrictions on Internet-based gambling, while others such as Indiana and Kentucky have no clear ban on it according to the site www.betmeister.net.

Other States are Following

Pennsylvania’s law was signed in September by Gov. Tom Corbett and goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2013. The new law specifically bans gambling on internet gaming, despite not addressing the issue of mobile apps. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s director, Howard Hintz, says Pennsylvania’s law will apply to casinos in Atlantic City and Atlantic City, Pa., as well as online gaming platforms in the state.

However, Hintz says, “we are not going to ban a particular type of Internet gambling, it is all about the same thing” — ensuring the safety of consumers.

Ohio law hasn’t gone into effect yet, but it should. The Ohio Gaming Commission recently signed a three-year contract to bring the state’s six poker rooms online. At the time, Gambling Control Board chairman Bill Coley told the Columbus Dispatch that the contract is an important step towards easing gaming’s stigma and opening it to the growing number of gamblers and it seems safe.

But not everyone believes this step is the best way forward. “I don’t think a casino is necessary to make this happen,” says Stephen Russell, CEO of Ohioans Against Gambling. “They don’t make it happen.

They are there to regulate. There’s nothing in there about making this happen or having casinos. That’s a complete misconception.” For this reason, opponents of the bill have banded together to call it “Ohio’s Stand Your Ground.” Russell says he fears the bill, which would ban municipalities from regulating online poker, will mean more problems for customers, as well as bigger lines at local casinos.