Park Place Considering Cybercasino

Park Place Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Tom Gallagher said Tuesday his company is considering whether to apply for an Internet casino license in a country off the British coast.

“It’s something that we are considering,” Gallagher said about the company’s interest in a cybercasino from the Isle of Man. “It’s not a primary focus because it’s simply one element of a much broader picture.”

Gallagher warned that the casino industry could be damaged by pushing Web gambling in a society that’s not prepared for the political and social challenges of online betting.

Several measures are working their way through Congress to prevent and hinder e-betting.

“Until the public and the gaming industry feels confident with Internet controls and safeguards, we should focus on those issues rather than pushing casino-style gaming into millions of homes that may not want it,” Gallagher said.

He spoke at the Charleston Campus of the Community College of Southern Nevada during the opening day of a two-day conference organized by the Nevada Gaming Commission to consider Internet gambling issues.

The Nevada Legislature recently approved a bill authorizing the commission to regulate Internet gambling if the panel determines the practice is legal within the United States.

The Justice Department has argued that the practice is prohibited by a 40-year-old federal law banning sports betting via telephones.

Nevada regulators must decide whether that law applies to casino gambling and not just sports wagering. They must also determine that effective barriers can be erected to prevent online wagering by children and gamblers in states where the practice is illegal.

BMM Australia Web security consultant James Sargent delivered a two-hour introductory primer on the safety and security of Internet gambling systems.

The presentation focused on the risks faced by Internet casino operators and on strategies used to minimize such risks.

Regulators appeared concerned when Sargent told them that no Internet casino security safeguards are 100 percent secure from threats posed by hackers and disgruntled customers. Seventy percent of the security violations are by employees at e-betting sites, Sargent said.

“You can possibly get a system that is 99 percent effective,” Sargent said.

MGM Mirage and Southern California-based Action Online Entertainment have applied for two of the online licenses to be issued by the 220-square-mile island. Three licenses are expected to be granted in a month, and as many as 11 companies have applied.

Gallagher’s company owns and operates, which many casino industry observers believe to be the most powerful brand in legal gambling and one they say would generate a great deal of online gambling. But he said the casino industry needs to move cautiously when considering whether to enter the e-gambling market.