iGaming Lessons From Three States… and Iceland

Mark Fogarty

Indian country attendees at this year’s Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas will be paying close attention to several sessions on Internet gaming at the event. Currently limited to New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware only,  iGaming has yet to come to tribes, who are evaluating its potential use in their nations and closely watching the fortunes (and otherwise) of early adaptors.

In addition to research on these three early state adaptors, attendees will get the benefit of some research on iGaming from a little farther away—the country of Iceland.

One session at the big gaming convention, set for September 29-October 1 at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, will be directly targeted at the tribal view of iGaming, while several others will tackle the topic in general as part of an “iGaming Congress” track.

Initial results have not been very promising. The numbers are in for 2014, the first year for cash iGaming, and the dollars have been tepid.

As ICTMN has reported, New Jersey was hoping to bring in $80 million last year, but from January to November of 2014, they saw just $6.1 million in tax revenue from about $40 million in total revenue, according to Casino City’s 2015 Global Gaming Almanac.

RELATED: Gamers Beware: Real-Money Online Gaming Market a Bust in 2014

Delaware “has struggled to generate large amounts of revenue because of its small population of about 926,000 people,” Casino City said. For the 11 of 12 months of last year, the online gaming revenue take in in Delaware was $1.9 million, the Almanac said.

Nevada took in $10 million for the 12 months ending November 30, 2014, according to the almanac.

iGaming is so new there isn’t yet any clarity on whether it will be an opportunity for tribes, a threat, or both. The session “The Online Reservation: The Tribal View of iGaming” will consider both the positives and the negatives.

“Potential federal legislation could ban iGaming completely or prevent tribal operators from ever participating. iGaming simultaneously poses threats and opportunities for Tribes as commercial gaming and state lotteries implement iGaming,” according to the session description.

The session “will help tribes understand why a seat needs to be reserved at the table for Indian gaming as the industry evolves.” This includes understanding the national debate around internet gaming; learning ideas for tribes to generate an overarching strategy for their online presence from interactive games, sports betting, social gaming to fantasy sports; and gaining knowledge on how sensitive data can be protected and how to meet regulatory and minimum internal control standards for iGaming.

Speakers include Jamie Hummingbird, director, Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission; Victor Rocha, owner & editor,; Brian Cladoosby, President, National Congress of American Indians and Swinomish Chairman, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community; Joseph Colebut, chairman, Foxwoods Development Corp., Knute Knudson, VP Business Development and Tribal Relations, International Game Technology; and Lynn Valbuena, chairwoman, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

The session “New Research on Internet Gambling: Lessons for Industry, Regulations, and Public Health” will feature Heather Gray, Professor, Harvard Medical School, reporting on her study, which represents the first examination of actual Internet gambling records within Iceland, a country with an active Internet lottery market.

Also of interest will be “The Legal Side of iGaming: Consequences, Opportunities and Concerns.”

Kevin Cochran, a senior legal analyst at Gambling Compliance Ltd., will be one of the speakers looking at the regulatory aspect of iGaming. “At this session, experts will explain how regulations are getting tighter in the U.S. and other jurisdictions. They'll discuss the current legal status in different regions of the world, and how regulation is advancing—or retreating—in other areas. Also covered will be best practices of iGaming compliance, how technical standards are being set and reviewed, and which jurisdictions are the most respected.”

Another session is on lessons learned by late iGaming adopters. “Early adopters of iGaming may have been burdened by initial investments with the limited early returns, especially with increased regulatory costs, marketing uncertainties and technical snafus. But while these companies may have been first, those hurdles have mostly been overcome. Regulators are still tweaking the rules, but wholesale changes are now rare. Marketing may be a grind, but at least we know what works and what doesn't. Geolocation has largely been solved and payment processing is headed that way.”

Panelists will include Melissa Blau (moderator), director & consultant, iGaming Capital; Thomas Winter, VP Online Gaming, Golden Nugget; Chris Capra, Director of US Marketing, 888Poker / 888Casino; Bill Pascrell, lobbyist, Princeton Public Affairs Group, Inc.; and Matt Davey, CEO/owner NYX Gaming Group.

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