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Joint UNLV study: regulate, legalize Internet gambling

Jul 29, 2008 6:57 PM

By GT Staff | A study released two weeks ago on online gambling made a suggestion that may be beneficial to Las Vegas in the future.

Conducted jointly by academics from UNLV and the University of Western Ontario in Canada, the study on the $10 billion (Canadian) a year industry – which exists in a "legal grey area" in the US and Canada – suggests legalization and regulation of online gambling.

The authors suggested that governments encourage large corporations like MGM MIRAGE and Harrah’s Entertainment, successful Las Vegas operators, to enter this new, regulated online market.

Harrah’s spokesman Gary Thompson said the company supported such a study and said it would be interested in exploring the opportunity in the potential market depending on how the government would structure its approach.

The study, which interviewed 20 regular casino gamblers and 10 regular online gamblers, also found that online gambling is problematic because it has the potential to become more addictive than casino gambling as its use would be easier to hide.

"It brings out the gamblers’ more competitive side," said June Cotte, associate professor of marketing at the University of Western Ontario, one of the study’s authors.

The study also suggested that government sponsors in Canada might enter the market and regulate it with measures like more effective age checks when signing up, setting limits on bets and implementing mandatory "cooling off" periods which would force gamblers online to stop betting for a set amount of time.