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Online gamers unified!

Sep 23, 2003 6:48 AM

Who really gambles on the Internet? It’s more like who doesn’t.

"Internet gaming is here and it’s not going to go away, nor should it," said Debbee Silverman, marketing and advertising director for during a session at last week’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E).

"Our research shows that 79 percent of the people we contacted had been gambling on the Internet for at least three years and that nearly 23 percent of those polled gambled daily."

Silverman and Mark Balestra, vice president of publishing for the River City Group, which conducted the survey, put together a composite sketch of the average Internet gambler.

"The age group is between 33-40, 53 percent are married with no kids, 55 percent are employed full-time, make between $45,000 and $60,000, have a college background and are English speaking people who know another language," the survey stated.

Silverman said he wished the gaming industry would change its position on Internet gaming.

"We’re part of the gambling industry," she said. "I think we do our best to regulate ourselves. It’s very harmful when Frank Fahrenkopf (head of the American Gaming Association) comes out against Internet gambling. There is so much business from North America that is being lost."

Silverman said the prime reason Internet gaming will not go away is because of its convenience.

"Convenience is everything," she said. "The casino is there in front of you if you are bored. It does scare off people when there is such a crackdown on cutting off credit cards, but the numbers show that people are going to find a way to play online."

Balestra said that his firm’s research showed that lotteries were the highest form of online gaming, while casino bettors could wager as much as $100 per month.

"Sports bettors would spend more money than casino players," he said. "We found that 56 percent of the 2,900 in our survey preferred online gaming to land-based gambling."

Balestra said further proof that the Internet was the wave of the future was that there was no single site that people would rely on alone.

"People like moving around from one casino site to another," he said. "They also enjoy betting against each other. Sports bettors wanted updated information and the Internet is the best and easiest way to get it."

Balestra said that Hong Kong is already using telephone wagering and that the Hispanic community is coming on strongly as a major player in the industry.

"Nearly 90 percent of the customers enjoyed the online experience," he said. "We were both surprised and pleased with what we came up with."