A couple weeks ago we were touting tribes in Oklahoma throwing their hats into the online gambling ring. To recap, two Oklahoma tribes were permitted to offer real money online gambling to NON-USA customers only, in exchange for a 20% cut to state of Oklahoma. Their website, www.pokertribes.com, is in soft launch and will soon be accepting everyone in the world except USA players. Not to be outdone, the Mashantucket Pequots of Ledyard, Connecticut, owners of the world famous Foxwoods Resort Casino, have completed a deal with GameAccount Network to begin offering play money games to all website customers, regardless of origin.
At the moment Foxwoods must get regulatory approval to offer play money games, but this is a mere formality. The main challenge will be getting REAL money online gambling started in the state of Connecticut and the rest of the nation. The state hasn’t taken a formal position about online gambling yet, although it has been resistant in the past. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are the state’s only two Native American casinos allowed to operate. They have reaped enormous financial rewards, and so has the state Treasury, which gets 25% of the gross gaming revenue each month. Recent attempts by other Connecticut tribes to gain federal recognition have been shot down, most notably the Golden Hill Paugussetts of Kent, who were opposed by a local anti-casino group that successfully lobbied the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The BIA’s ruling was considered controversial and clearly under the influence of exogenous forces.
Our prediction is that real money online gambling from Foxwoods OR Mohegan Sun will be offered within 3 years. The dominoes are falling in other states hungry for additional tax revenue. Connecticut is a wealthier state than most, but that doesn’t mean people are happy paying high tax rates. Allowing the Native American tribes to run an online casino is potentially LESS threatening to state citizens if customers from around the nation and/or world are welcomed. State anti-casino groups oppose growth of legalized gambling because of social welfare concerns and the fact it is a de facto tax on local residents. That wouldn’t be much of an issue if online slots, blackjack, or roulette are offered to a global market. It would be easy money for the state and the local impact on social well-being would be nominal.
With e-gaming you have to think big, and then bigger. The booming market in Macau SAR, China, is evidence that an online casino based in Connecticut could easily tap into an immense revenue stream. Who in the USA is really against getting money out of China? No one wants people in any state or country to be hopelessly addicted to online gambling, but the State of Connecticut gaming commission could easily mitigate social problems at home or abroad with strict regulations and deposit velocity limits. Many foreigners from China already patronize Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Why not go after those that don’t feel like taking a long flight to the USA to gamble?
The nation is busy with other matters, but the online gambling bug has crept into the legislative halls of our governments, and the case for legalizing and regulating it in the USA is compelling. Yes, there will have to be control over the age of customers, those who self-exclude themselves from gambling online, and controls on payment processing, but it is a winning proposition if implemented correctly.
See you at Foxwoods in person OR online soon!
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