Regulator: Net gaming ‘inevitable’ in Nevada

July 02, 2002 7:52 AM
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Predicting that legalization "is inevitable," State Gaming Control Board member Scott Scherer sees a bright future for Internet gaming.

"The 2003 Legislature will probably go forward with some form of intrastate gaming,’’ Scherer said at the iGamingWorld Conference at the Bellagio last week.

What’s more, tough anti-gaming legislation pending in Congress could end up working to the industry’s advantage, the former Nevada lawmaker said.

But there are some potential glitches, too.

"Problem gambling is a potential timebomb,’’ Scherer said. "The (anti-Internet) Goodlatte bill would pass in a flash if a teenager from, say, Utah or Tennessee gambles away the family savings online.’’

While the possibility of abuse exists on the Net, Scherer believes that any attempts at an outright ban will be "ineffective." "Technology will march on. Public and political acceptance is here now.’’

The latest twists and turns on the Goodlatte bill show how web-based gaming remains in play. When Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, succeeded last month in gutting exemptions for casinos, lotteries and horse tracks, he may have sealed the bill’s fate.

Frank Fahrenkopf of the American Gaming Association and other industry leaders quickly opposed the stricter measure and most prognosticators have declared it dead. Which means Internet gaming is still very much alive.

Meantime, David Marshall, chairman and CEO of Youbet.com, says "Nevada is missing the boat’’ every day it delays entering the lucrative net-wagering field.

Youbet, which calls itself the world’s No. 1 online betting service, accepts horse wagers from 40 states. But Nevada isn’t one of them.

Marshall is bullish on the California market, where advance deposit wagers are building briskly. Since winning legislative approval there last November, ADW has grown appreciably.

"There’s been no cannibalization (of the tracks),’’ Marshall told GamingToday.

Since 1978, many venues have allowed online horse racing action. Since 1997, the publicly traded Youbet (Nasdaq: UBET) has processed $300 million in handle.

"The Internet is the ideal distribution for horseracing. No traffic, no work conflict, no waiting,’’ Marshall says.