Nevada leads the way in approving online gaming

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Nevada beat New Jersey in the race to become the first state to legalize online gambling. Nevada's governor says the new law will help usher-in the "new frontier" of gaming.

Supporters of online poker and other games say the internet could be the pipeline for many millions of additional dollars. But it doesn't look like Mississippi will be joining Nevada and New Jersey anytime soon.

A bill to allow online gaming in Mississippi was introduced this year and last. Both times, the measure failed to make it out of committee.

Supporters of online gaming say the magnolia state should seriously consider allowing it.

"Oh absolutely. I think if we don't, we'll be missing out on an opportunity that other large gaming jurisdictions are giving their citizens," said attorney Michael Cavanaugh of Biloxi, whose clients include gaming interests.

The bottom line for states considering online gaming is money: Taxes and licensing fees for online operators.

"Mississippi, if we don't get into it like the other states we're in competition with, will wind up losing out. Because the way the Nevada bill is, it allows entities that are licensed for online gaming in Nevada, to also have it in other states as well," said Cavanaugh.

The Palace Casino's Keith Crosby isn't so sure about the potential of online games.

"I think it's a fashionable topic right now. I have yet to see the mechanics of where it would make sense when you contrast it to the regional community benefits of a bricks and mortar installation as opposed to an internet relationship," says Crosby.

Internet gaming was certainly among the key issues at last year's Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi. WLOX News covered a panel discussion on that topic with state representative, Bobby Moak, who chaired the house gaming committee.

He told the group, that's why we're here, because the conversation has commenced and everyone is talking about it.

"In Mississippi, I think our attitude should be, let's protect the people that built this market, in this jurisdiction. And that is, allow those folks that have bricks and mortar that we're already regulating. Then, we can look at any internet issues they might have if they're going to get in that market," Moak told the panel on May 10, 2012.

New Jersey is expected to approve online gaming, next week.

On that subject of gaming revenue, 2013 is off to a very slow start. Coast casinos made $4.5 million less last month than they did in January of 2012. The revenue total last month was just over $83 million and that's the lowest monthly figure since 2006.

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