Is the Internet Ready for Casino Gambling? An alternative view! By Jeffrey Compton February 20, 2014 at 10:39 am In his recent commentary Is the Internet Ready for Casino Gambling?, my colleague Ken Adams discussed the recent history of Internet Gaming. He also discussed recent incidents of Internet hacking, primarily to the Las Vegas Sands website but also to several companies in other industries. He concluded that “the casino industry might be ready for the internet, but the internet is not yet ready for the industry” and “at this time internet gambling can never be secure.” While I share Ken’s concerns about the safety of the Internet, I disagree with this conclusion that no action is the best choice. My father taught me “never is a very long time!” Since we celebrated his 97th birthday last Saturday, I will take him at his word. As with most developments in the history of civilization, including fire, travel by water, roads, public bathrooms, moveable type, gunpowder, railroads, automobiles, feature films, television, air travel and satellites the Internet is fraught with danger – but our quality of life today would be that of several centuries ago if we waited for anything to be 100% safe, or even 75% safe, before we explore its full usage. Today we use the Internet to get the news, deposit money in a bank, pay bills, make investments, research medical decisions, maintain medical records, buy just about everything (legal and otherwise), make friends, bore friends, form romantic relationships, cheat on those relationships, play games (alone, with friends, or with total strangers) and gamble (legal and otherwise). All of those transactions bear risks, and not just from hackers. As far as I know, none of my family or close friends have suffered a major loss on the Internet due to hacking or identity theft. But almost everyone I know has lost a couple of hundred bucks (over time) from subscriptions or other services they signed up for and forgot about – and didn’t notice the small charges on their credit card bills for several months. Gaming transactions on the Internet carry no greater inherent risks compared to brick-and-mortar gaming than do any other transactions on the Internet verses the traditional alternative. If someone breaks into an Internet casino website, they might obtain a record of my activities, get my banking or credit card information, and/or play on my account (sending me the losses – and keeping the winnings). If they hack into my bank or investment company they could steal all my money (at least temporarily) plus find out my history of payments (who, how much, when). If they hack into Amazon, they can find my banking or credit card information, purchase a ton of stuff for themselves, and get a record of my myriad purchases there (including the $115 I spent this month on late-Plantagenet-early-Tudor history books/DVDs – Jeffrey, you really have to get out more!). In the case of my credit card company, bank, and Amazon) enough safeguards have been established and guarantees made over the last few years (due to trial and error, mostly errors of others) that I feel safe enough using these services. I still do scan all monthly statements thoroughly, but mainly to catch those small charges as opposed to big ones. Could scammers change the overall extent of fairness of Internet games – biasing customer wins and losses, and skimming the resulting excess? Possibly! But that is a challenge that the industry will have deal with if it intends to successfully and profitably operate on the Internet. Ken wrote that “The security and integrity of gambling is fundamental to the casino industry.” I agree, but let’s not forget that major segments of the modern casino industry were founded by mobsters in the 1940s and 1950s. Through the years industry chiefs and state and tribal regulators have worked very hard to establish and keep the integrity of the industry (not always a totally successful struggle – as depicted in the movie “Casino”). They know well the importance of maintaining that integrity as the industry moves onto the Internet. If the task of keeping everything safe and honest became overwhelming, I am sure that the industry would shut Internet gaming down – primarily to maintain what they already have on the ground. Legalized gambling has been in America for almost 100 years. Twenty-nine years ago, the .com website was created and since then, the Internet has become an integral part of daily life of most Americans. The gaming industry has to find a way, if it can, to integrate into the Internet for both the safety of their current customers (so they aren’t forced to use the online equivalent of “a back alley craps game, playing with loaded dice in a game dealt by a guy with gun and a bad temper”) and to develop future customers from the upcoming generations who consider the Internet as integral to their lives as their heartbeat. The time is now and not never.