Online casinos will become mainstream
By Paul
Gambling is part of the entertainment industry, and will eventually be distributed by the same channels used by the mass entertainment industry – via interactive TV, live game simulcasts and the Internet. That’s according to Harrah's Entertainment president and chief operating officer Gary Loveman, who was speaking at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas last week..

'We have something for sale that people want to buy, but the problem is in most cases it's really hard to buy,' said Loveman

Loveman pointed out that state-regulated casino gambling is limited to 11 states in the US: something that would be ridiculous is applied to, for example, golf. Loveman said that the overwhelming desire of Americans to gamble will inevitably lead to the major entertainment companies such as AOL Time Warner, Viacom and Walt Disney Co. buying up small casino companies.

'The entertainment industry controls most of the distribution but profitable content is a problem. Gaming has profitable content but distribution is a problem,' he said.

And the land-based casino president admits that the public wants online casino entertainment, despite the efforts of lawmakers to thwart that wish. “There's no doubt that Americans would embrace more casinos and new forms of gambling,” he said, citing industry-funded research showing that 27% of the US adult population visited a casino last year, spending nearly $40 billion.

The number keeps growing as more state-regulated, Indian and racetrack casinos open. Loveman noted that Atlantic City casino revenues keep growing despite the growth of competition from casinos in Connecticut and Delaware.

Every time a casino opens in a nongaming market, Loveman said, 'The pent up demand is astounding.' 'What we have is a woefully undersupplied service that is in great demand,' he said.

To push forward any further expansion in gambling outlets, Loveman says that the industry must position itself as wholesome entertainment. To do this, the industry needs to counter perceptions of casinos as havens for vice and shady characters, and to emphasize that compulsive gambling affects only 1 to 2 percent of gamblers, he said.

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