In May 2013, over 400 professionals took part in a week-long gambling conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. That conference was the International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking, a world-renowned gathering of academics, researchers, therapists, gamblers, and other industrialists. This was the fifteenth time professionals from around the world gathered for the conference, and the topics up for discussion were some of the most sizzling issues in the industry.
Issue #1: Will Land-Based Casinos Survive the Internet Gaming Explosion?
As technology grows and expands, experts can't help but wonder if land-based casinos are on their way out. For younger people, the use of smart phones, iPads, and tablets comes as second nature. Social gaming on Facebook and other sites has primed today's youth for a world of digital gaming, not a world of brick-and-mortar casino gambling. Land-based casinos may very well lose their edge as younger generations, with their affinity for high-tech gadgets, come of age. This is a genuine concern for people who get their profits from the land-based casino industry.
Experts at the conference weighed in on the issue. Tom Breitling, CEO of the America's first legal online gambling site, Ultimate Poker, said that each state will ultimately determine its own fate in terms of brick-and-mortar casinos. Each state in America gets to decide for itself whether online gambling should be legal or not, so each state's casino landscape will therefore experience a different reality. In states where online gambling becomes legal, brick-and-mortar casinos may very well lose their luster. In states where online gambling remains forbidden, brick-and-mortar casinos stand a better chance of maintaining a healthy customer base.
Mark Liparelli, former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, agreed that today's electronically inclined youth may eventually sway public favor toward online gaming. He conceded, however, that the gambling industry has no way to definitely predict the outcome of this issue just yet. Interested parties will simply have to wait and see what the future holds.
Issue # 2: Should Social Gaming Be Regulated by the Government?
At this time, social games are played on Facebook and other venues for token prizes only. Gamers can wager money, but they don't stand to lose or gain very much. Because of the negligible amount of cash wagered on social gaming sites, the issue of whether these sites should be regulated by the government is a murky and debatable one.
On one hand, any type of wagering, large or small, is technically gambling. In Florida, Internet cafes and adult arcades were recently shut down for this very reason, thanks to a new state law (read this). Some people argue that Florida's new ruling is a conservative one, but it stands to reason that if people think government has a rightful place in regulating small-time arcade games, it may also have a place in the regulation of online social games.
On the other hand, Florida's new law is a controversial one. Not all states have outlawed arcade games because not all states believe it's their place to do so. When government begins to micro-manage every little detail of the industry, it calls into question even the trivial practice of token-centered kiddie games at children's restaurants like Chuck E. Cheese (click here). Some think that government regulation of the kid-targeted games is a laughable issue, but others consider it to be serious business. In the end, if democracy has its fair say, the majority will rule.
Issue # 3: Will Online Sports Betting Become Legal in the U.S.?
For years, Europeans have legally wagered money on sports matches through online sites like Paddy Power. The United States has yet to follow suit. The day may soon come, however, when Americans have the chance to join their chums across the pond in online sports wagering.
The subject of sports betting in the U.S. was one of the International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking's hottest topics. In today's advanced technological world, sports fans have access to highly sophisticated methods of predicting sports match outcomes. Computer-generated statistics and analytical algorithms make it easier than ever to accurately foresee who will win a particular match or game.
Three professors shared their formulas for predicting horse race outcomes at the conference. Each formula was presented as a sophisticated mathematical equation. To use these equations, variables are plugged into the formulas and predictions are made. The availability of such intriguing mathematical wizardry may eventually see more gamblers gravitating toward sports betting, as mathematically "informed" sports betting appears to have better odds.
Keynote speaker Chad Millman pointed out that today, with so many online prediction tools available, even people who don't follow sports can get in on the fun. The sports betting industry, which sees a $500 billion cash flow in the course of one year, stands to gain from these advances. Hurting economies could also profit, as increased betting yields increased territorial revenue. The final consensus at the conference was that online sports betting will probably become legal in the U.S., although it may take some time for government approval to trickle through the states.
International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking: Another Success
The 15th International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking wrapped up on May 31 after a week of hard-hitting panel discussions and debates on controversial issues like the ones mentioned above. The conference, first introduced in 1974, traditionally covers public policy, gaming management, hospitality, and the sociological and economical issues surrounding the gaming industry. The conference is touted as an important opportunity for professionals to debate and discuss important ideas in the gambling world. Although no political decisions are made or policies determined, professionals benefit from the chance to talk about topics relevant to their field of interest: gambling.