Ignoring the Internet Casino Cash Cow

The race to legalize Internet gambling is on, and Nevada appears to have taken the early lead. And if the state which calls the world’s largest gambling destination home can manage to overcome some of its immediate obstacles, it could soon make its presence felt online. Unless the competition gets its act together, they could well be left eating the desert state’s dust.

Nevada, home to Las Vegas, Reno and Laughlin, approved the inevitable last month, officially approving the Internet version of the trade it has mastered so well for the better part of a century-and-counting. While some issues remain unresolved, such as issues of regulation, security, underage gambling and taxation, Nevada state residents and international gamblers can realistically expect to begin placing bets with them inside of two years.

Brick and mortar casinos such as the Mirage and Harrah’s are currently entered into partnerships which offer play for free websites that act as a training ground for the real deal. When they levy is lifted, expect those sites to quickly turn into play for real sites with real money changing hands and their Vegas casino brethren to be right alongside them.

The decision to go ahead and allow Nevada operators to set up shop online is of little surprise. There are estimated to be more than 1,400 casinos running online, and many other play for free sites alongside them. What is surprising, however, is the timing. It was widely thought that New Jersey would beat Nevada to the punch and legalize Internet betting. Instead, proposed legislation that would have made Jersey the first U.S. state to permit online gambling fell victim to political bungling that has resulted in mounds upon mounds of red tape.

In fact, the state has gone so far as to directly challenge casinos which have dared to use billboard advertising along the state’s main expressway into Atlantic City. They have filed three civil lawsuits against three online casinos for accepting bets from New Jersey residents. It’s unlikely that the scope of an investigation went beyond the three advertising casinos, who surely are not alone in accepting business from those within Jersey’s borders. It is more a retaliation for the supposed gall of placing ads in such a prominent place in the eastern seaboard’s gambling hotbed.

In a country the size of America, which prides itself as being a supposed world leader — economically, politically, and …