Industry needs rules for level playing field

Mar 29, 2005 8:24 AM

Yes and yes. Online gaming should both be legalized and regulated.

I can understand the objections Las Vegas sports books and poker rooms might have toward allowing online gaming free reign, but at the same time the position is hypocritical. Washington wants to abolish sports wagering in Nevada for the very reasons Vegas books wish online wagering would disappear.

Gambling is gambling, whether it’s here or overseas. Vegas and its foreign competition should be working together instead of against one another. People enjoy gambling and no matter where it occurs, we need to make sure it is available. The best way to do that and counter any government action is to show a united front.

At the same time, there must be regulation. The Gaming Control Board should be a measuring stick for how to run an above-board industry. Washington is either ignorant, uninvolved or non-caring about all the "illegal" sports wagering going on throughout the country.

Where I grew up in New York, there were bookies practically on every corner eagerly willing to take your money on a bet. You sought them out because of the opportunity to have action on any game of interest, especially during football season. The problem, of course, was finding a bookie you could trust, or one who wouldn’t threaten to blow your head off if you couldn’t come up with the money for a losing transaction.

That’s the beauty of regulation. In Vegas, you go up to the window knowing what transpires is perfectly legal and that a winning bet will be rewarded immediately after the result is final. Regulation is a security blanket, both for bettors and the house. Regulators are the middlemen, whose job it is to see that the game is straight and above board.

There are few absolute assurances outside Vegas, whether around the block or across the globe. Online gaming isn’t going away. In fact, it has extended big time to poker with sites attracting millions of players a day. Players have to do their homework to find trustworthy online sites that make payments quickly and accurately with your winnings.

Great Britain is removing its restrictions against online wagers coming from the United States, and Macao will, before the end of the decade, be a worldwide center for gaming off the China coast. Just ask any of the Las Vegas moguls who want a piece of that pie.

Anything good for the industry is welcome. From a bettor’s angle, the more opportunity the better. Gaming does an excellent job of policing itself in Las Vegas. The world should learn from us how it’s done and we should in turn work with them to improve the overall product.

Division would only enhance the political morons in D.C., who are looking for any reason to eliminate gaming. We don’t need to give them any ammo.