Wednesday, Dec. 10, 1997 | 11 a.m.
With the convergence of the personal computer and the television set rapidly making new entertainment options available in the home, casino companies should pay attention to the potential of interactive gambling on the Internet.
Panelists in a session at the American Gaming and Lodging Summit also concluded Tuesday that established casino brand names have the most to gain from Internet gaming and that the proposed Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1997 wouldn't shut down operators that presently are regulated by state and local jurisdictions.
Sue Schneider, chief executive officer of Rolling Good Times On Line, a publication that covers gambling, said there are about 100 World Wide Web sites on the Internet that offer casino games. Some are purely recreational, like panelist David Herschman's Virtual Vegas site, while others, many of them based in offshore locations, take wagers from gamblers and pay winners by check.
"There won't be wide-based acceptance of Internet gaming until some of the name brands are out there," Schneider said.
Of the approximately 100 sites in existence, Schneider said only two or three have not delivered money to winners. Chat groups and e-mail communications spread the word quickly about which operators aren't legitimate. That's why the first big-name operation to step to the plate on Internet gaming would have such an advantage, Herschman said.
"You better do something quick," Herschman said to gaming industry leaders in the crowd, "and if you don't, you better have the cash on hand to jump in big."
Other Internet gaming problems panelists identified that would have to be solved before casinos would embrace the concept: The hardware must provide rapid response for the games and a regulatory body is needed to assure that games are fair.
Panelist Tony Fontaine, vice president of Las Vegas-based Alliance Gaming, which is developing online gaming products, said the software exists to provide entertaining games and a regulatory agency could provide the forum necessary to resolve disputes.
While panelists acknowledge Australia and New Zealand are ahead in the bid to monitor online gaming worldwide, they also noted that the bill drafted by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., is gaining support, even among the gaming community. The reason: The legislation only bans any casino that doesn't operate under existing state or local regulations.
Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., also supports the Kyl bill, saying casinos in Nevada believe there is no way to adequately regulate Internet gambling.