Gaming experts urge one model for Internet gambling

Joseph Brennen of Ventnor, NJ logs on to a Harrah's online casino on his laptop from a highway rest area in Egg Harbor Township, NJ on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, the first day of a test of Internet gambling in New Jersey. (Associated Press)
Joseph Brennen of Ventnor, NJ logs on to a Harrah's online casino on his laptop from a highway rest area in Egg Harbor Township, NJ on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, the first day of a test of Internet gambling in New Jersey. (Associated Press) (AP)
Posted: May 21, 2014

ATLANTIC CITY - If more states legalize Internet gambling, they should work toward common ground in regulations, New Jersey's top gambling regulator said Monday at a conference here.

If states copy the hodgepodge of models used for the land-based casinos and apply them to Internet casinos, "the industry won't be able to keep up," David L. Rebuck, director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, said during a panel discussion at the East Coast Gaming Congress. "Shame on us if we don't have those discussions."

Rebuck, who led New Jersey's rushed but widely praised implementation of Internet gambling over nine months last year, said he had opened discussions with Nevada about harmonizing Internet gambling regulations, and had also been in touch with regulators in states that have not legalized online gambling. Among them is Susan Hensel, director of licensing at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

"This is a new business. This is not just an extension of bricks and mortar," Rebuck said he told Hensel, who attended the session at the Borgata.

Pennsylvania pops up in any discussion of which states will be next to legalize Internet gambling. A top Pennsylvania lawmaker this month increased those expectations by confirming that legislators would explore the possibility.

But if every state adopts a self-contained model for Internet gambling, the industry is sure to falter, said Gil White, a lawyer with Israeli-based Herzog Fox & Neeman who specializes in gaming and e-commerce.

"Eventually this will creak and break down. Companies will not be able to invest the millions of dollars they invested in Nevada and then did again in New Jersey," White said.

It might have been possible to reproduce systems for each state in the bricks-and-mortar world, but "in the Internet world, the margins are not big enough for that to work," White said.

Sharing systems across states sets the stage for regulatory competition, as was evident Monday.

Mark Lipparelli, a former chairman of the Nevada State Gaming Board, said his state's regulations would be a good place to start.

"I think we covered most of the waterfront," he said. "I don't think we need to reinvent the wheel on this one."


hbrubaker@phillynews.com

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