The Cat is out of the bag, Pandora’s box is open and the horse left the barn


There is a biblical saying – “there is nothing new under the sun.”  It may be accurate, but not complete; there are many, many variations on a theme and not all of them have seen the light of the sun before.  This week a lawmaker in Nebraska suggested new casino legislation for his state, but with a novel twist.  He would like to promise no casinos within 50 miles of the state’s borders providing that bordering states share their casino revenue with Nebraska.  He singled out Iowa, claiming that Council Bluff casinos live off Nebraska gamblers – that in his mind entitles Nebraska to a share of Iowa gaming taxes.  Now, it is not likely the legislation will get off the ground, nor if it did that Iowa or any other state would share anything with Nebraska.  The lawmaker says it is not about expanding gambling in Nebraska, it is about expanding revenues in Nebraska.  It sounds crazy, but the idea may have legs – the cry of “keep the gambling dollars at home” dominates casino debates these days in most states.  The governor of New York used that very argument yesterday in stumping for his casino plan in New York.  Political blackmail – a wonderful idea, it would save all of the hassle, lawsuits and emotional debate that always follows passing the first casino legislation. With a good revenue sharing plan you leave the other state to deal with the hassles and you just figure out how to spend your share of the money.  How much would Atlantic City be willing to pay to get rid of casinos in Pennsylvania?  Okay maybe they don’t have that much, casinos in Pennsylvania had $3 billion in gaming revenue in 2011.

With another twist on an old idea, the director of the Iowa lottery is suggesting the state could form a network with other states and some foreign countries to put poker online.  That idea very likely to find supporters in the states that already have passed some kind of online gaming legislation.  This is it, no federal permission necessary, no federal taxation, no federal regulation – each state can choose to join the network and still maintain its own rules.  It is also probable the idea will lead more states to pass online gaming legislation.

The cat is out of the bag, Pandora’s box has been opened and those proverbial horses have escaped the barn through that door you – oh members of Congress and the Department of Justice – forgot to shut.  IGT is said to be under pressure from three of the largest casino companies over its $500 million purchase of an online gaming company.  The casinos don’t want their suppliers competing against them – a charge they have leveled before when IGT and Ballys actually owned casinos.

But in this new Wild West of the Internet it will be every man for himself and IGT wants to be there to provide the games, the hosting site and collect the revenues directly and not have to share with those casino companies; the company and Iowa may have already  started to talk about the mechanism – but if they haven’t they will soon.  Slot machines are not new, however some very new variations are on their way to your home computers soon. Slot game development has been held back for decades by state gaming regulators, with them out of the way, gambling games can become as exciting and creative as the other video games in the world. The possibilites are endless.  Oh, those casinos who want to control it all, they won’t be able to do it.  Cat is out, box is open and there is no putting the horse back in the barn.

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