Mister Jones something is indeed happening here – isn’t it?

Because something is happening here; But you don’t know what it is; Do you, Mister Jones?  The question is the refrain from the 1965 Bob Dylan song, Ballad of a Thin Man.  The song is said to be about newspaper reporter covering Dylan and his hippie friends, but not understanding what they were doing or why.  That is how I feel at the moment reading the news articles on Internet gaming, and in this case that means games in the conventional sense and gambling games.  Today, was just another day for the Internet gaming news, but it was usually confusing for me.

First MGM is now awarding points to its slot club members for using a variety of social networking sites associated with the casino company; it is just one of a series of stories from Las Vegas on the increasing use of social media by casino operators.  Then Williams, a manufacturer of slot machines, announced the promotion of Orrin Edidin to president and CEO of its interactive division; his job is get his company into the online action.  This story is also just one in a series, IGT , Bally and Aristocrat already have an Internet division with a like mission.

 It no longer takes a roll of the dice or spin of the roulette wheel to become a high roller in Las Vegas casinos. You can now tweet your way to VIP status. Or you can use Facebook, Foursquare or Instagram. MGM Resorts International today launched a program allowing its M life loyalty rewards members to connect their social media and loyalty rewards accounts to earn free stuff from casinos in Las Vegas, Detroit and Mississippi. The social media connection is the latest in a trend of developing apps that put the Las Vegas Strip at the fingertips of smartphone owners. Ron Sylvester, Las Vegas Sun, 7-17-12

 Orrin Edidin is to lead WMS’ newly established i-gaming subsidiary, Williams Interactive. Williams Interactive will focus on the growth, development and operational execution of the US-based company’s worldwide online wagering, social, casual and mobile gaming initiatives. The creation of Williams Interactive is intended to optimize the benefits of i-gaming for WMS’ casino operator customers and their players. Edidin, president of WMS Industries, has been promoted to the new position of president and CEO of Williams Interactive. Simon Liddle, Intergame, 7-17-12

The final article from today that created my confusion has nothing to do with gambling and casinos – only it does.  Facebook has a game called Hotel Casino.  It is apparently a combination of monopoly and blackjack; you gamble on tradition casino games and you gamble on the real estate of the Strip – and of course you gamble with the other players.   Now, this and other Facebook games where people wager play money, are not in the strictest sense gambling.   Yes, player bet against each other, but the wager is not something of value in the conventional sense, you cannot cash out and go to the grocery store.

 Hotel Casino is a new Facebook game developed by Merrywind Inc. and published by Korean company Soribada Games. The game launched this week and is up against stiff competition — Zynga’s Texas HoldEm Poker is still one of the most consistently-popular titles on the social network, and other casino games are more well-established. Merrywind and Soribada are doubtless hoping that Hotel Casino’s unique features are enough to distinguish it from its numerous rivals. Hotel Casino casts players in the role of an up-and-coming mogul seeking to make their name on the Vegas Strip. Beginning with a modest pot of cash, players must play casino games in an attempt to raise enough capital to purchase their own hotel and rule their own little piece of the Strip. Pete Davison, Inside Social Games, 7-17-12

Online gaming in the United States is still wandering around in limbo, not quite illegal (except sports betting, according to the Department of Justice) and not yet legal.  There are signs that it is moving toward a more legal and regulated status.  Nevada has passed legislation allowing for gambling online within the state, but there is not anyplace to make a wager yet.  Lots of companies are getting licensed – Churchill Downs is the most recent applicant to participate in online gambling in Nevada – some 30 companies have made application to participate – but the games have not begun.   Nevada is getting close, but it is  not there yet.

Nevada is really waiting for the federal government to legalize online wagering.   Nevada does not have enough people to make online gambling profitable.  To be profitable will require a larger population base; that could be a national population base under federal law, or a combination of states with legalized online gambling.  It would be profitable for Nevada if California and New York authorized online gambling and signed agreements with Nevada for the citizens of each state to play on games originating from the others.   New York and California are not moving much faster than the federal government.

In a presidential election year, online gaming is not important enough to get any attention in Congress. Although congressional insiders say that if there was a clear majority in either house the bills pending would pass, but without that, no one in congress wants a public debate on gambling when the election is hanging in the balance.  And there it sits.

While, the lawmakers wait, the major players in social networking and in casino gaming are not waiting.  Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you? No, I don’t; like a reporter in a room filled with hashish smoke, blues and long haired hippies, I can see movement, but I don’t understand it.  I need help; I need a central clearing house of information; a place that gathers every article about online gaming – of any kind – and every story concerning bricks and mortar gaming companies moving onto the Internet.  And then, I need someone who understands all of it and can explain it to me.  Otherwise I have nothing but a series of unrelated, unconnected stories pointing to something, but I can’t tell what.  I have frequently criticized reporters for writing only about events as if they were unique and not connected to a broader pictures, to trends; but I am stuck in the events, stumbling over them one at at a time as if there were not connected to any other event or to any trend.  My heading is buzzing in confusion.






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July 2012
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