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May 4, 2015

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For sake of jobs, time to legalize online poker

It is about jobs, jobs, jobs.

The Republican presidential debaters, those who actually showed up, have come and gone and left behind a slew of mixed messages. One of the messages that came through loud and clear, and this despite your political leanings to the left or right, is that most of the players who were on the Sands Expo stage are not yet ready for prime time.

The front-runners acted like children and those who are seemingly also-rans acted like, well, also-rans. Whether you agree with them or not, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich acted the most grown-up of the bunch.

The other message that came through, albeit without much meat on its bones, was the absolute need to create jobs. Across the country and, especially, here in Nevada. And do it now! None of the candidates were very specific about how they could or would help those of us who are living in and trying to work at ground zero.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t people trying to help.

What seemed like a missed opportunity to create thousands of jobs for Nevada in last year’s lame duck session of Congress may be presenting itself once again. This time, I hope, those who are claiming to care about Nevada and the country’s jobless will act appropriately.

I am talking about Internet poker.

As a matter of full disclosure, my family may find a way of participating in what could be the next gambling frontier — the virtual world — as would many tens of thousands of other Nevadans. So my bias has some personal gain attached but nowhere near the general benefit I see for all of us who live and work in this state.

Billions and billions of dollars are bet annually on Internet poker. A significant number of those billions are bet by players in the United States. And there is no reason to believe that the growth of that industry will be slowed anytime soon. I know many people who hold Nevada gaming licenses who gamble on the Internet. I know many college students who gamble on the Internet. I know many ordinary folks who gamble on the Internet. They love it. And they see no reason to stop playing.

Did I mention that gambling on the Internet is illegal in the United States?

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was supposed to stop all forms of Internet gambling in this country. Since its passage, millions of people have joined the ranks of players who cared more about the enjoyment they got from playing online than they did any threat of enforcement action by the authorities. In short, they flaunted the law, a law that made criminals out of regular folks who just wanted to have fun.

And it wasn’t until the federal government earlier this year indicted some of the major Internet poker companies that were illegally accepting wagers from the United States that most people realized how pervasive this illegal activity actually was. Furthermore, the players learned that in some cases they and their money were part of some Ponzi scheme that left them high and dry without enough of their own money for an ante.

In short, people went broke before they ever made a bet!

So we have a new ballgame. The impetus now is where it rightly needs to be. The emphasis must be on security and enforcement. Making sure that those who do play on the Internet are of age and mentally fit is a top priority. Also, making sure there is sufficient regulation of those who run the games is a must. And, finally, it doesn’t hurt that through regulating the industry there is ample and willing opportunity to create new revenue streams for the federal and state governments.

For Nevada, the benefits should be obvious. It seems clear that there won’t be too many new hotels built in Las Vegas for quite some time. Capital investment will probably be limited to creating changes within existing structures or adding new amenities. But we still need to find ways to grow because through growth comes financial security and job opportunities.

Every industry in this country is trying to find the ways and means to use the Internet to advance its distribution and sales channels. Why shouldn’t our gaming industry? With multiple billions of dollars invested in this state, it seems the logical move would be to capitalize on the expertise of those who work inside those buildings. And to do it without the capital costs for expanded bricks and mortar just makes sense.

If this thing is done right, states like Nevada — whose Legislature and gaming authorities have made sure we are ready and able to act should the time come — could lead the way in licensing and enforcement because we have the expertise necessary to regulate this new industry. In so doing, tens of thousands of jobs could find their way to Nevada through companies that desire to locate here to be part of our regulatory scheme. That, in turn, will bring hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money to our much-depleted coffers.

It isn’t a complete panacea but it is a start. In the end, amending the UIGEA to provide for proper enforcement and regulation can be the shot in the arm that Nevada needs.

It also could remove from the annals of criminal behavior the hundreds of thousands of Americans who just want to play poker with a credible company and, perhaps, win.

Las Vegas knows how to do that.

Brian Greenspun is the publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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  1. So the jobs created would be more government and regulatory jobs? Sounds like a familiar plan.. I think the U.S. Government should run the whole thing, kind of like states that have State run Liquor stores. This way the entire process is controlled and all the money is kept by the government. Hopefully they would make money at it..

  2. Mr Reid: Live poker rooms saw huge increases from internet poker. WSOP had record entrants before online gaming was outlawed. Online poker was training rookies who wanted live poker once their skills improved. Same as Macau has fueled record visitors to Las Vegas from China. They get the gambling bug at home and want Las Vegas action, the king of gambling.

  3. I have mixed emotions on this, mainly because of two concerns.

    One, from having years of experience in a related field online I know how difficult it is to verify a person's age for online activity. The most effective means are also the most cumbersome and time consuming, which goes directly counter to what online companies desire.

    Two, cheating at online poker is extremely easy for not only the players but the game host as well, and difficult to prove.

    That said, if those two concerns can be met I would fully support a strong, online poker bill.

  4. Your wrong Brian Greenspun. And anyone else who advocate online poker or any form of online gaming that uses money as the main instrument at risk.

    Jobs? Wrong again! What jobs? Where and how many? Wrong, wrong, wrong! There is some much wrong with online poker, why would any responsible person want to exchange "all" that would be at risk in our gaming community for an unknown, a virus. Online poker is the HIV of legalized gambling!

    Jobs? Where are you numbers to justify risking Las Vegas' gaming future. This is something we cannot control no matter what the experts say. After all, experts are paid to say what you want them to say!

    Stop playing with the poison snake and saying it's only a pet. The technolgy is not in place to control this beast. Stop supporting something you and others know nothing about or how to control. Be responsible, and say responsible things!

  5. @longtime, you really have NO clue as to how jobs will be created? or how money will be made for the US? or how doing nothing all these many years has cost the US billions....NOT millions, BILLIONS. BRIAN is right, jobs and the need to be the leader in the world of gambling is a must for the US and NEVADA. If we wait we will lose a big opportunity not only the US but this STATE of nevada. NEVADANS should want this for many reasons I wont get into but please stop with the BS about "NO ONLINE GAMBLING" as far as "ACE" is concerned, if we (NEVADA) are the regulators for the US, we make your money anyway, and your wife will still want to come to vegas, maybe 1 x or 2 but you will want to come here she needs her slots. You don`t see that online (YET) and I hope they offer that and sports betting online soon

  6.`s Francois JIM...second you claim she likes slots,not me, i am just saying if they legalize it it will not affect vegas. You like live poker? you can come here an play poker live, if we regulate online poker you don`t have to play. But don`t take away the ability and facts for the US to make money on an activity that is happening anyway but we are making none of the money. Be smart JIM, stop thinking that if we have it legal in the US. the world will cave in and everyone will go broke. Lets get on the money train.

  7. Thanks Francois for standing up for Brian and others who are misguided and blinded by the short term expectations of online poker. You see, this is the genie in the bottle my friend. Anyone with half-a-brain knows online poker cannot be controlled or regulated. Frankly, this is a surprise that Brain Greenspun is acting just like the hoarding home buyers who came to Las Vegas and created our housing bubble, causing the crisis for Nevadans, mainly Las Vegans! Looking for a quick buck without assessing the actions!

    Nevada's legalized gambling has integrity. Online poker does not! Just like the casinos on the strip and elswhere, some casino executives decided to place pole dancing inside the casino, those executive where wrong. Now, these same executives and others like Brian are trying to bit the hand the feeds them!

    Las Vegas is about casinos, large and small; tangibles, you can access and regulate. Online will be the start of a full assault on the structure of the America household. You would think we would have learned a lesson from the use of crack cocaine in destroying the family! Allowing "any" family member to spend their entire day in front of the computer risking their income, your income; and when they run out, anyone's income, just to stay in the game, will have long term consequences on the Independent Frequent Vistor to land base casinos.

    When talking about the family, this mean everyone in the family. Which includes your children!
    using whatever means necessary to play online...Yes, that's right, any means necessary. How do you regulate and control this action? You cannot!

    Nevada's leaders should be focus on improving and supporting our land base casino's and marketing our city for all the good we have work hard to establish. Not flirting with the unknown. Online poker will have, and has had, fraud and stealing. Online poker, in the long run, will destroy Nevada's gaming integrity.

    The technology does not exist to control, and regulate online poker...Period! Why would we want to place what we have in jeopardy for two in the brush?

  8. It's kind of hard to take your article seriously when you have pretty important facts wrong. Playin poker online does not make Americans criminals. It is not, nor has it ever been, illegal for me to play poker for money online. Furthermore, the UIGEA was indeed passed in 2006, but it was not enacted until June 30, 2010. At that time, it became illegal for financial institutions to make gambling transactions. But it did NOT make it illegal for Americans to play online poker. Washington state would be the one exception, where it is a felony to play online poker. Imagine that -- a felony! To play a game? Somebody bought those politicians, didn't they? Hmmmmm. Wonder who owns all of the casinos in Washington.

  9. @Longtimevegan i don`t think a business man like my self nor mr. greenspun , mr. wynn and many others are wrong. Check YOUR facts, oversees, it has been played legal with not a problem. My kids will have control under my guidance, until they are grown and choose to do as they please. You use crack cocaine as a comparison? That will never be legal and your analogy was silly. Let`s agree Prohibition did not work??? People can go just as broke coming to our lovely city.
    @Jim, because i ask you to call me by my name means I am sensitive? I think when you call someone out you should do it with respect, that was all i asked and thought you did not know the correct spelling. Get with the times my friend, you say your to old, let me guess, you don`t have a cell, don`t like computers and moving as fast as this country is you are not happy? Making fun of my name is your defense to your laughable comments, that tells me about person i am dealing with,enjoy your evening JIM.

  10. Again, your wrong. No way can an entity regulate or control online gaming, or online poker with our current technology.

    First off, where are the numbers for the so-called jobs from online poker? Online poker is online! So where are the jobs? Jobs through a regulatory body, but how many would this be? The US government is doing the right thing in keeping online poker illegal. Online poker is making money for a select few, let it stay that way. As far as bringing online poker through the front door, no way. This is not a front and center proposition!

    There are so many negatives against online poker, one looses count. Again, anyone with half-a-brain knows the down fall of having legalized online poker. The gains will be short lived, Las Vegas would suffer in the long run. We do not have the technology to control or regulate online poker...Period!

  11. @ Longtimevegan ..Hello, thanks for the fun chat, I like to hear other opinions..Let me help you since i must be one with have half a First job creation comes from many outlets not only government jobs but IT support, bill pay, processing,advertisers,people that watch accounts (like ebay employees do) and people that play for a living. Those are jobs... second, You are missing what is most important here, that is the taxes the US would make on this.The legal protection the US players would have... we are losing those now. It is regulated in Europe, check your facts. They have done very well at it and today`s technology, is better then the credit you give. Do you gamble??? What is the reason you believe doing it overseas is safer then the US doing it and regulating it? Are they smarter? Have you not read William Hill has moved to Vegas and is trying to be a part of the Nevada gaming? Cantor? and many more, all because they have the technology for online gambling, they know its coming and some are European companies, that have been using this technology.
    It will happen so get on bored or if you think it hurts las vegas/nevada please explain because your not really making any good points. thanks

  12. Good response VegasSays, I would like to add online satelites to live events can also bring in players that might not have went to Vegas otherwise.

  13. Again, where are the numbers to support legalizing online poker? Not support, job numbers? And from who? What technology will be used to regulate and control?

    Like many of us, the betting is, when it comes to signing on the dotted line, the big casinos, the publicly traded ones, will think twice about risking their integrity before placing their name on a online poker site. Yes, the market for online poker is huge. The problem is, we are late to the game without controls or regulations. Or knowing the impact of bring this beast front and center into our living rooms. At this time, not a good ideal, to risky to our current gaming structure.

    Las Vegas is known for offering fair and honest gambling. Addressing and correcting issues, and concerned from our patrons. Integrity, Nevada's legalized gambling has Integrity! Online poker does not have integrity, in addition to the dishonest actions we have already experienced by some of the online poker site in the cross-hairs of the Federal Goverment.

    You cannot control or regulate online poker! That is the reality. Produce the technology first, then come back again. Online poker is the HIV to legalized land base casinos. The money will make you feel good---initially, but will kill you in end!

  14. Longtimevegan, you said "Produce the technology first, then come back again." What are your credentials in the field of online technology?

    Millions of Americans have played online poker for the last decade. I know because I am one of them. I would rather play on a US site. Why do you want me to play on offshore sites?

    The question isn't whether or not Americans can play online poker or not for they can and do. The question is where will they play.

  15. TigerEagle,

    It is a valid point that it is impossible to stop cheating by players, and without very unusual procedures it will be difficult to guarantee games are not rigged by the house. And then you have issue of underage gambling.

    I am not against online gaming as such, but I know there are some serious issues to be resolved.

    Yes, I would much rather have those players using US servers with US regulations and taxes. But without the safeguards we have come to expect from brick and mortar establishments I don't want to see US reputations trashed.

  16. New technology and new processes have changed the American Gaming Association mind as seen in their Testimony Submitted for Consideration by the U. S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.

  17. boftx, You can't stop cheating in live play either. You catch the ones you can. Unlike live play, online play has hand histories of every hand played that can be looked at by security months later. Better players can turn in cheats and the cheaters play can be looked at all the way back to when he started playing poker on that site. Also software can see if the same players keep playing on the same tables which detects colluders. There is many more ways and software to detect cheaters and bots.

    I have played in a $1 tourney with 149,196 players entered it. You wouldn't want to play in tournaments like that?

  18. The proposal presented by AGA detailed how a legalized online poker operation would operate. Too many holes for cheaters...Has anyone read the proposed operating structure? It's hard enough catching cheating in land base casinos. There's plenty of cheating going on with online poker.

    The US Government has outlined the case against the three online poker sites. Some of our well known poker players are implicated. The number of jobs projected are not worth it for us to jepoardize legalized land base gaming.

    Years of hard earned trust and integrity is at stake! Online poker is HIV to legalized land base casinos. We should not start a destruction that cannot be reversed! You chase this money, you eat your tail. Online poker cannot be controlled or regulated with our current technology...Period!

  19. With Online poker, the mathematical formulas that create the 'odds' can be changed for 15 minutes at a time, fleecing the hell out of players, then switched back. This will be impossible to detect because the Online Lobbyists will be able to rent or purchase many legislators.

    Online poker creates offshore jobs and NO TAX REVENUE for Nevada. You don't see revenue from Amazon and there won't be jobs or revenue from online poker.

    Online Poker is the perfect 'cloud corporation': it's headquarters are dispersed around the globe. Servers and programmers have no territory. There are no warehouses for products, no assembly lines, etc.

    Disperse the programmers, move the servers and another corporation appears. Money flows to the top and there are no jobs except for the very privileged.

  20. Online gaming will protect or add jobs like ATM's added tellers at banks. Be serious!