Online poker has plenty of potential in the United States, but it will need a wider player base in order to succeed.
That’s the opinion of Caesars Entertainment Chairman and former CEO Gary Loveman, who talked about Internet poker as part of an interview with KNPR, a Las Vegas National Public Radio station.
When asked about why online poker seems to have “stalled” in New Jersey and Nevada, Loveman pointed out that having more states on board would help drive growth, and expressed disappointment that regulation hasn’t spread as quickly as he had hoped.
“I think it stalled in part because we don’t have a sufficient population of people from other states playing to make the offering as compelling as it needs to be,” Loveman told KNPR. “This is one of the great frustrations of the years I’ve been in this industry is that something that is so intellectually straightforward has been so difficult to execute. The idea that Americans cannot legally play poker online…strikes me as almost crazy.”
Sports Leagues Could Eventually Led to Online Poker Regulation
While that frustration might not be going away any time soon, Loveman did say that he saw hope for online poker through an unlikely source.
“The solution for this is going to come from an unexpected place,” Loveman said. The major sports leagues in the United States, led by Adam Silver and the NBA, have decided that they favor betting on sports which is an online experience.
“And once the NFL moves to the point where they in fact favor this, I think you will see a federal action that legalizes sports betting, somehow defined at the federal level and virtually every state will participate. Once that Rubicon has been crossed, I think poker will very naturally fall in because it has an awful lot of similarities to fantasy sports.”
Loveman was also asked about the changing opinions of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who has seemingly aligned himself in most respects with Sheldon Adelson when it comes to Internet poker.
“I respectfully disagree with the senator, with whom I have had countless conversations on this topic,” said Loveman. “I think that the world is one where…virtually every transaction or decision is now mediated through a digital interface on some type of mobile device and the notion that the one thing you can’t do is to play a game of chance of skill for consideration on a mobile device, I just don’t understand the logic of that.”
Caesars Continues Bankruptcy Battle
The comments by Loveman come against a backdrop of turmoil at Caesars Entertainment, which has been struggling to appease bondholders during bankruptcy proceedings for Caesars Entertainment Operating Company (CEOC), the main operating unit of the global gaming giant.
Just last month, a Chicago bankruptcy judge ruled that the assets of Caesars Entertainment itself could be subjected to bankruptcy proceedings, though the company is appealing that decision.
Rulings such as that one could open the door to numerous lawsuits from lenders who believe that the company moved assets around to protect the best parts of the company from the bankruptcy hearings.
The potential for Caesars Entertainment itself to be liable for its debts caused the company’s share price to plummet 40 percent, though shares have recovered somewhat since the ruling came down.