Business Wire – “Nevada’s ‘window of opportunity’ to develop a new tax-base from Internet gaming may soon slam shut,” said Richard Fitzpatrick, president of the Interactive Gaming Institute of Nevada (IGI), in reference to a license that was issued today to MGM MIRAGE allowing them to open an online casino in Isle of Man, a self-governing, dependent territory of the United Kingdom.
“We support MGM MIRAGE’s decision to utilize Internet gaming,” Fitzpatrick said. “They should do what’s best for their stockholders. They — and the other Nevada casinos that will likely get licensed in the Isle of Man during the next few months — will be enormously successful. Our frustration is that the potential of significant new tax revenue for Nevada will now be lost.”
The first three Isle of Man online casino licenses were awarded Thursday (9/20/01) to Littlewoods in London and Sun International based in South Africa, and MGM MIRAGE. Eleven firms are thought to have made serious applications for licenses, including other major U.S. corporations. The island also announced that it plans to issue an additional nine licenses in early November.
“These online casinos won’t accept bets from U.S. citizens, nevertheless they’ll join in a projected $5 billion worldwide Internet gambling market,” Fitzpatrick said. “If our Nevada resorts take a mere 20 percent share, that would generate gross revenue of $1 billion, which represents more than $60 million in taxes that our state could have received.
“With Nevada’s tourist-based economy becoming rather unstable, the state has no choice but to think about potential sources of new revenue. Internet gaming, which brings in money from those who don’t live here — don’t even visit here — should be the top of the list.”
IGI, a non-profit coalition of gaming and technology companies, was officially launched in June after the passage of a bill by the Nevada Legislature that included provisions allowing the Nevada Gaming Commission to develop a process for the approval of interactive gaming applications.
“We formed IGI to serve as a bridge between the Toto SGP gaming licensees in Nevada and the technology companies who have the capability to make their Internet plans a reality,” said Fitzpatrick. “We will provide that support whether the casinos become licensed in Nevada — or 5,000 miles from here. Consequently, as an association, IGI still has a full agenda to carry out.
“However, as Nevada citizens, we’re extremely frustrated that our state hasn’t shown progress in implementing what the legislature authorized. Now, our foremost gaming companies are preparing to take their Internet operations — and the resulting millions of dollars of tax benefits — to other countries.”
This will be a topic seriously discussed next week at the “Interactive Gaming Exposition and Conference” (Sept. 26-28) at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. More than 300 people are expected to attend the conference described as “where the regulated casino industry meets interactive gaming.”
“I’m still an optimist,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m hopeful the governor will quickly name a new chairperson of the Gaming Commission and they will begin work immediately to authorize a realistic set of regulations that address the legislation’s issues — while providing Nevada’s licensed casinos the opportunity to compete fairly in the international marketplace.
“We stand ready to supply our members expertise and other assistance necessary to see that this takes place.”