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Online Options

It wasn't that many years ago that I was adamantly opposed to legalizing online gaming.

Online Options

It wasn’t that many years ago that I was adamantly opposed to legalizing online gaming. After all, the very concept of gambling from your home or mobile device was antithetic to the desire of the land-based casinos to bring customers to their properties to enjoy the “full experience” of a gaming resort. While there certainly was a place for online marketing, the actual gambling must take place in the casino so gamblers can be in the atmosphere to relax and enjoy everything the property has to offer.

That was, of course, before the economic meltdown that has blasted the gaming industry far and wide. Revenue is down; players are more cautious with their gambling budgets, if they even show up at all. Competition is located within every state, country and province. So casinos need to think outside the box.

And at the same time, the world has changed. Remember when a fax machine was a thing of wonder? No longer. Mobile phones are simply handheld devices used for communicating, sharing photos and videos, listening to music and movies, and, yes, even betting.

So any gaming company that wants to survive and thrive will be smart to examine the current state of online gaming. Yes, it’s still illegal in the United States and some other countries, particularly in Asia, but the tide is turning, and even the most clueless casino executive can feel it.

You see the kids on the street texting their friends. Your co-workers check their emails on their Blackberries while waiting for the meeting to start. Your own iPhone surfs the web as quickly as any computer.

No, online gaming is coming because it is part of the technology revolution. There is nothing any government can do to stop the activity because it is just an extension of everything else you can do on your mobile device. Young people know that better than us old fogies, and they’re ready to move us out of the way.

So you get prepared. There might be some resistance at first. There will still be some legislators who think the devil is behind gambling online. But they will soon go speechless when they see the tax revenue it creates-especially during this time of declining tax revenues. It will probably be poker and other skill games that get the first nod, followed soon thereafter by other casino games like blackjack and slots. And finally, the “third rail” of internet gaming-at least in the United States-will fall: sports betting.

So what can you do to be prepared for this coming revolution, and what will it mean to your casino and your company? That’s a difficult question to answer in one column like this.

But here at Global Gaming Business, we can begin to answer it in a new section we’re debuting this month called iGames. This section is devoted to informing our land-based friends on what is happening in this rapidly developing area of the gaming industry. Whether it’s the state of legislation to legalize online gaming, some legal wrangling concerning the scope of the activity; the nuts and bolts of setting up an online casino; incorporating your online presence with your land-based brand; or the nuances of affiliate programs and how to use your online casino to drive new customers to your land-based facility, iGames will be your resource that bridges the land-based world to the online universe.

And better yet, iGames will be just an extension of a comprehensive, bi-weekly online newsletter that will enable Global Gaming Business to present breaking news and comprehensive, detailed discussions about online gaming that just couldn’t fit inside these pages. The iGames newsletter will call upon the experts to present their viewpoints and provide you with clear, reasonable solutions to your online gaming questions.

This is just part of the Global Gaming Business commitment to providing our readers and advertisers with the information that you need to prepare for the technology revolution and create a new revenue stream that can also be used to market your land-based facilities to a larger and more affluent market.

So enjoy our new section this month and look for an announcement within the next two months in these pages and on our website so you can sign up for a free three-month subscription to the new iGames newsletter.

Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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