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Online Gambling: “Threat to Society” or the Next Big Thing?

Daily Ticker

When you think of gambling in the U.S. you probably think Las Vegas and Atlantic City sprinkled with some Native American-owned casinos in the Northeast and riverboats in some Southern states. Now comes online gambling, which has been operating only in Nevada and is spreading to Delaware and New Jersey.

On Nov. 21, Ultimate Gaming, which already operates in Nevada, will begin testing a “suite” of online games in New Jersey via “a soft launch" under the Ultimate Casino moniker. If all goes well, Ultimate Gaming (which has partnered with the Trump Taj Mahal), will officially launch its site before the end of the month.

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“This is just the beginning, just the tip of the iceberg for what we see as a multi-billion-dollar industry,” says Tom Breitling, chairman of Ultimate Gaming. NJ casinos like the Tropicana, the Golden Nugget, Borgata and Caesars (CZR) are all expected to introduce online gambling in the coming weeks. And Pennsylvania and California are considering making online gambling available.

“Over the last decade billions of dollars left our economy as a result of the rogue, illegal offshore operations that were offering real money online casino style gaming to consumers,” says Breitling. Now, he says, regulations are in place to expand online gaming state by state.

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Not everyone in the casino business is embracing online gambling. Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire chairman of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), which operates casinos in Las Vegas, Bethlehem, PA, Macao and Singapore, calls online gambling “fool’s gold.”

In a recent Forbes column, Adelson writes that online gambling is “a threat to our society—a toxin which all good people ought to resist.” He says it will not only take business away from land-based casinos including those run by Native Americans but also endanger children and young adults who are “already dangerously addicted to Internet games.”

Adelson admits that online gambling will have a limited impact on his company because most of his casino profits come from Asia. Still, according to today's Washington Post, Adelson is preparing a national campaign to oppose the expansion of online gaming.

"Prohibition doesn't work," Breitling says when asked to respond to Adelson's opposition.

Watch the video above and decide for yourself if Breitling or Adelson is right about online gaming.

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