Late to embrace the online gambling phenomena, big-time Vegas casinos have come to the conclusion that betting online will be a good thing – especially for the big-time Vegas casinos. Even if some players will stay at home rather than trek to the casino, the alternative – not having a line in the water when the fish are biting – is uncomfortable for the Wynns, LV Sands and Caesars.
But even as the land-based casino giants finally and somewhat reluctantly embrace at least the concept of allowing people to gamble online, there is still talk that every person wagering while logged on takes away a potential customer who might book a flight to Vegas and settle in at a craps table.
Some gambling experts at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this week say the concern is overblown, and that online gambling and the full casino experience create tremendous cross-promotion opportunities. In addition, the legalization of online play would probably create an even larger customer base, easing the concern among casino suits that online players would peel away bricks-and-mortar customers because it’s more convenient to play at home.
"It's a matter of retention," said Vahe Baloulian of eGaming Partners Inc. in Los Angeles. "It's also a matter of bringing new clients in by using online gaming."
In many states lottery officials have warned that allowing construction of casinos would either kill or seriously cripple the scratch-ticket cash cow that helps fund local programs and in many cases is used to reduce taxes. Yet in almost every case the opposite has occurred – in Pennsylvania, for example, the state lottery has a higher take than ever even though 10 full-blown casinos have been constructed in recent years.
Casinos still digging out from the Great Recession are willing to try anything that will help them. If and when online gambling is legalized and regulated, they will look back and wonder what they were worried about.