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Colorado Casinos Mull Online Gambling

By: Ryan Alders, Tuesday April 26th 2011
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Despite the upheaval at the federal level in the United States, there is news of one more state that has taken the first step in the direction of online gambling. This state is Colorado. The Denver Post reported this weekend that the Colorado Gaming Association had commissioned a study on what stand it should take with respect to online gambling. The study concluded, "If Colorado does not act on this emerging field in a timely manner, the existing commercial casino industry will be at risk."

The report indicated that the Congress ultimately would have to regulate and tax online gambling. When that happens, the brick and mortar casinos that were not ready to go online immediately would be out of business in the competitive environment. Some of the reasons cited in the study for the eventual acceptance of online gambling are as follows. Americans account for 17% of the global online gambling industry. Total online gambling revenue generated from USA residents is estimated at nearly $6 billion annually, which includes online poker, online casinos and online sports betting. In addition the Denver Post reports that the major federal crackdown on three online poker sites last week has done nothing to diminish the demand that online gambling be legalized and regulated. There are reports of other operators filling the vacuum despite growing difficulties with online payment processors.

This view is supported by legal experts in online gambling. Professor I. Nelson Rose compared the situation to the policy of prohibition that failed to prevent people from drinking. In fact Rose opined that indictments could actually hasten the passage of intra-state online gambling bills. Bill Palermo, a local consultant, told the Denver Post that land based gambling takes up too much space and requires too much labor per unit of revenue generated as compared with online gambling. On the other hand online gambling sites require minimal startup and maintenance costs.

The office of the attorney general of Colorado told the Denver Post that in its opinion online gambling is illegal in the state, even though there is no specific statute in this regard. Mike Saccone, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said that it would be able to prosecute online poker players under existing gambling and money-laundering statutes. However, the state has till date not ventures to press such charges against anyone.

The executive director of the Colorado Gaming Association, Lois Rice, said that the study was commissioned in anticipation of Congress' eventual legalization of online gambling and the states being given jurisdiction to regulate it. The casino association is not currently pursuing any online gambling legislation.

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