Internet betting is likely to expand the gambling industry as opposed to stealing business from traditional bricks-and-mortar casinos in Las Vegas and other gaming markets, a new survey of 3,000 gamblers worldwide indicates.
“Online casinos are not a current threat to Las Vegas casinos. Instead, they will be a new revenue source and a possible cross-marketing tool,” said Jerry Asher, vice president of marketing for the Internet gambling research firm the River City Group.
His St. Charles, Mo.-based firm collaborated with Reymer & Associates in compiling the River City Gambler Monitor report.
Asher said gamblers who wager both on- and off-line tend to increase their betting budgets, rather than split the funds between the two activities.
“Online gambling is a completely different entertainment experience,” he said.
The report is expected to be released this week. Asher offered some of its contents during an Internet gambling panel discussion at the World Gaming Congress and Expo in Las Vegas last week.
The report comes as a few major land-based casino operators are preparing to enter the cybergambling industry.
MGM MIRAGE, Littlewoods of Liverpool, England, and Sun International Hotels — which operates the Atlantis Resort and Casino in the Bahamas, among other properties — have been granted licenses to operate cyber-casinos from the Isle of Man, an island off the coast of Great Britain.
And Station Casinos Inc., the dominant locals casino operator in Southern Nevada, has just completed a 30-day field test of PC-based wagering.
The system, called Sports Net Connect, allows its customers to place sports bets from home through a private computer network that ties into the company’s sports book system.
Tony Fontaine, Station’s vice president of interactive gaming, said he hopes for regulatory approval for the system within the next few weeks.
He said he sees this as the first of many steps toward a regulated Internet gambling industry in Nevada.
The Nevada Legislature last spring authorized the state’s gaming regulators to establish rules for their licensees to operate cyber-casinos.
Regulators are studying if these sites can block underage gamblers and compulsive gamblers.
Sebastian Sinclair, an analyst for Christiansen Capital Advisors, predicts the worldwide Internet gambling industry will grow from $2.2 billion in revenues in 2000 to $10.5 billion by 2005.
In comparison, the Nevada gaming industry generated $9.6 billion in 2000.
The River City Gambler Monitor said that 25 percent of its respondents gamble Sg Online Casino and at land-based casinos, while 47 percent gambled only off-line.
The most popular gambling sites — which included for-cash and play-for-fun sites — were e-lotteries. About 97 percent of the respondents played e-lotteries.
Forty-two percent of the respondents played cyber-casinos, which are sites that offer games like blackjack, video poker and virtual slots.
Bingo sites were the third most popular gambling sites at 34 percent. Sports betting and horse racing sites were not part of this question on the survey.
The majority of respondents listed security as the most important issue for a gambling site to gain a player’s loyalty. Secondly, players wanted quick payment after winning, Asher said.