n Wednesday, the markup stage for Representative Barney Frank's online gambling regulation bill took place in the House Finance Committee. One of the key amendments that came out of the day almost ensured that if regulations were put in place, Las Vegas casino company's would have first crack at licenses.
Representative Spencer Bacchus is one of the strongest opponents to Frank's online gambling regulation movement, but he agreed with Frank that if the bill moves forward, any online sites that have been ignoring current US law would be restricted from receiving a gaming license.
That would eliminate some of the biggest names in online poker. Full Tilt and PokerStars have continued to accept US players despite the effort by the government to criminalize the activity. Their non-compliance has even online gambling supporters weary of offering licenses to those who have not played by the rules in the past.
Harrah's and other well known Las Vegas brands stand to be the beneficiary. Once the licenses are offered, the Vegas company's could start seeing millions of dollars in revenue each month from potential Internet gambling sites. With that much revenue at stake, the Vegas contingent has changed their stance on Internet gambling.
Nevada lawmakers have long fought against regulations for the industry to protect their land-based casino interests. Earlier this year, the American Gaming Association looked into online gambling and determined that they would now support its regulation in the US.
Steve Wynn, owner of Wynn Resorts, still is against regulating the industry and has been vocal with his opinion. More and more company's, however, are starting to realize that the future of the gaming industry in the country may be online.
Land-based casinos have seen some of the worst drops in revenue in their history over the past several years. Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the two biggest gaming destinations in the US, have experienced double digit declines in revenue since the economic recession.
States around the country have turned to land-based casinos at a time when budget deficits have grown to astronomical proportions. The increase in casinos has further hurt existing casinos, and may have led to the recent change in online gambling stance of the AGA.
Harrah's has already launched several online gaming sites that are regulated in the UK. While other companies have looked to Macau and Singapore for revenue, the firm has focused on preparing for Internet gambling law changes in the US.
Caesars is one of the most recognizable names in gaming, and Harrah's has used the name in their UK online endeavors to attract potential customers. If Representative Frank's bill advances through Congress, a similar approach could be taken in the US.