Operators and manufacturers at G2E had a lot to say about the Internet.



Last month’s Global Gaming Expo offered the usual heaping helping of all things slot related, as evidenced by our coverage on the inside pages of this issue. Also very much in the air was Internet gaming, a topic more theoretical than actual for most operators, but with the potential to transform traditional operations in the coming years. Here’s some of what was said:

Mark Lipparelli, the recently departed chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, reminded attendees at the iGaming Congress here Monday that Nevada is positioned to move beyond online poker as states elsewhere in the country expand the definition what constitutes legal online gaming. :

“One thing that often gets mentioned about Nevada is that it will only offer online poker; actually, Nevada’s law contemplates all forms of gaming beyond poker,” said Lipparelli, who was careful to state his comments were his and his alone, noting that that he was speaking as a former chairman, but that he had made the same comments as chairman. “It’s not just a poker-only market. The rule-making for other forms of gaming online would have to take place before our Gaming Commission, but no further statutory language needs to be passed.” :

Lipparelli sees as many of five states legalizing online gaming in the next 12 to 18 months, and, looking out four years, 10 or 15 states legalizing some form of online gaming or another. “There’s very little doubt in my mind that if the federal legislation doesn’t move, and it certainly seems to be jammed up now, that you will see passage in a number of states and we’ll see a state-to-state rollout.” :

On the tribal side, most tribes recognize the opportunities presented by legalized Internet gaming, but the combination of high perceived entry costs, legal and regulatory uncertainty and increasingly contentious government-to-government relations could slow progress in the next few years. :

 “There’s probably about 270 different tribes operating gaming facilities in this country. If I talk to every one of them about Internet gaming, I’ll get 270 different answers,” said Frank Pracukowski, director of administration, Foxwoods Development Company. “Certain tribes want poker only, others poker and casino games, some believe iGaming will cannibalize their existing facility, they feel they might be too small to compete in the online space, they have to keep an eye on federal and state bills, they don’t have iGaming experience and the cost to enter the market is high. You take all that into account and you get a lot of different answers for iGaming.” :

 Shelia Morago, executive director, Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, said tribal gaming operators are sold on the need to develop Internet gaming strategies, but the main challenges are political. :

“We have a ton of compacts out there and every single state is different,” Morago said. “The real question is not how to do Internet gaming, but what am I going to give up in order to do it? Because the ‘give-up’ is going to be in renegotiated compacts. Many of us have been in compact renegotiations in the last five years where every time we’ve done it we’ve lost something. I’m not talking about big things, but it’s an inch-by-inch sort of give-back. A little bit more money on the back end, a little bit more revenue sharing, a little bit more intrusion from the state level on your regulatory structures. And current compact renegotiations now often occur in less-friendly environments than five years ago.” :

That said, Morago stated tribes are now looking at Internet gaming very closely. “Tribes know they are going to have to do something; you can just look at their social media marketing to see how advanced they are,” she said. “It’s coming down the line, we’re getting ready as fast as we can, but everything has to be thought out in detail. To other people, it looks slow, for us it’s deliberate. You have to weigh all the parts and pieces.” SM