There was a time when American casinos supported the concept of internet gambling. Internet gambling sites actually improved business for casinos. Poker players would begin with an online experience and eventually gravitate toward real casinos where they hoped to become rich and famous like their professional poker player idols. But not everyone can agree on internet gambling legislation.
The American Gaming Association’s two largest members, Harrah’s and MGM Mirage, support legislation. However, several members of the Association, including Steve Wynn, oppose any sort of regulation because it cannot be adequately monitored and could only cause embarrassment to the gaming industry. Since they cannot agree on the issue, the Association has had no choice but to remain neutral on the issue.
Harrah’s would benefit the most from internet gambling legislation. Their World Series of Poker has become a global tournament franchise. Harrah’s plans to develop the World Series brand globally and utilize internet gambling opportunities in countries that have legalized, or no laws prohibiting, internet gambling.
Harrahs’s Total Rewards database has continued to grow in spite of the economy. They now have the biggest customer list in the casino industry. Much of this growth is thanks to the World Series of Poker tournaments across the U.S. and World Series of Poker Europe which attracts players from all across Europe. According to U.S. law, Harrah’s is prohibited from accepting players who’ve won entry fees through tournaments on internet gambling web sites. Harrah’s European tournament has no such restrictions.
Harrah’s has embraced expansion efforts in the U.S. They see casino gambling as a mainstream pastime. Their hope is to open as many new casinos as the population can support. They support Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank’s bill which would have the feds regulate Internet gambling. MGM Mirage, on the other hand, would prefer regulations by state government, as do many of the smaller local casinos on the Vegas strip. These smaller casinos are aware that internet gambling may have played a part in their increased poker business, and the regulation of internet gambling would help raise needed tax money. But trying to compete with the World Series of Poker would be quite the challenge.