|Las Vegas casinos are gambling on the Internet. Led by the giant MGM Mirage, the world famous casinos plan to extend their empire into the virtual world. |
Legal uncertainty over online gambling had until recently put the Vegas casinos off online gambling. Encouraged by the continuing success of Internet betting and concerned at the potential loss of customers the group overcame any trepidation. Launching their online venture two months ago off British mainland on the Isle of Man.
Gambling is only offered to citizens of six European countries. An inbuilt system that monitors where gamers are geographically ensures everyone else, including Americans, are kept out. The guaranteed exclusion of Americans keeps the Vegas set operating legally back in the real world.
Some casinos interested in venturing online remain cautious of the new technology until all legal and regulatory issues are resolved. David Strow of Harrah's Entertainment: 'If we're found in violation of federal or state laws regarding Internet gaming they have the right to take our licences. In essence we could lose our ability to operate our properties.'
Nevertheless two of MGM Mirage’s rivals have applied for online licences and more are likely to follow or get left behind. Anthony Cabot, a lawyer specialising in gambling legislation the change of tact: 'The casino industry has a huge advantage in this marketplace because they have great brand recognition, they have databases, and they're building a cross-market for their online product with their casino product, so I think a number of them will be involved.'
MGM Mirage’s leadership venture into Internet technology is no surprise. They’ve led the way in applying new technologies to improve efficiency back of house and provide improved customer support. Combined with the market name they and the rest of the Vegas group already have they look ready to tackle the online casino newcomers that threaten their empire.