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Executive Sees Future in Online Betting

11/18/09 - Las Vegas Review-Journal - View Source

By Howard Stutz

Internet gaming companies could become the next wave of casino industry equipment manufacturers if the U.S. government legalizes online wagering.

Jim Ryan, chief executive officer of Gibraltar-based PartyGaming, told a private meeting of institutional gaming industry investors Monday night that Internet gaming companies can provide casinos with better player data and customer tracking technology than they now use.

"It's far deeper than that," Ryan said. "We utilize technology for e-commerce and can capture player information on a far better scale. We can see ourselves becoming partners with traditional casinos."

Ryan participated in the panel discussion as part of the Legends of Gaming event, which was hosted by Las Vegas-based Union Gaming Group, at the Playboy Club atop the Palms. The audience consisted primarily of institutional investors seeking insight as the gaming industry weaves its way through the tough economy.

Ryan was joined by traditional casino operators, MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren and Palms President George Maloof; slot machine manufacturers, WMS Industries CEO Brian Gamache and incoming International Game Technology Chairman Phil Satre; retired gaming executives, Jack Binion and Chuck Mathewson; and executives of businesses associated with the casino industry, Michael Morton, CEO of the N9NE restaurant and nightclub group and boxing promoter Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank.

When asked by Union Gaming Group principal Bill Lerner about the prospects for Internet gaming in the United States, Ryan said he couldn't believe the government is letting taxable dollars slip through its fingers. He said PartyGaming, which operates six different online gambling sites, had revenues of $1.2 billion and profits of $775 million before 2006, when the Bush administration signed the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act into law. The act cut access to players in the United States.

After the panel discussion, Ryan questioned why the U.S. gaming industry hasn't supported legalization of Internet gaming.

The proposed Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009, which was introduced in May by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., would establish regulations to allow licensed gambling operators to accept wagers from inside the United States.

"I just don't understand why the American Gaming Association (the industry's Washington D.C.-based lobbying arm) hasn't gotten behind the Frank bill, or any bill supporting Internet gaming, for that matter," Ryan said


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