Gambling Conference Looks at Trends, Social Gaming - 8 News NOW

Gambling Conference Looks at Trends, Social Gaming

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LAS VEGAS -- The gaming industry's top minds from around the world are in Las Vegas this week for a glimpse into the future and its cutting-edge trends.

Las Vegas is the gambling and entertainment capital of the world, but at the International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking, the gaming Mecca has more competition than ever before.

"Las Vegas remains a fascinating destination," said Nana Magomola, executive director of South Africa's National Responsible Gambling Program.

Bo Bernhard, executive director of UNLV's International Gaming Institute, said Las Vegas won't lose its status as a gambling leader, despite more countries betting big on gaming.

"The important thing is that the intellectual capital, the global corporate headquarters, still live here, and operate a global gaming industry," Bernhard said.

Then there's the world of I-gaming, or Internet gaming.

"I think the Internet gaming world, as we know it, is a whole untapped resource of future customers for Las Vegas," said Jon Porter, a gaming lobbyist and former U.S. congressman.

Porter said online gambling can and should be regulated..

"I support a federal platform to make sure that there's consistency in all 50 states, but I also think that each state should make their own decision," Porter said. "If you choose to opt out, like Utah has said that they don't want gaming, that's fine."

Nevada made U.S. history last month when it allowed ultimatepoker.com to deal the first legal, real-money hand of poker in the country.

"Starting on April 30, tax dollars were actually being generated for the state of Nevada for the first time in the history of America for online gaming," Ultimate Gaming chairman Tom Breitling said. "We're hiring people. We have over 100 people at Ultimate Gaming."

Meanwhile, others look to Nevada -- the gold standard in gaming regulation -- as more countries welcome wagering in the digital age.

"We are taking slow steps to make sure that we learn from other countries that have been involved in online gambling," Magomola said.

Another trend that's growing and catching the attention of the gaming industry is called social gaming.

It's not a form of traditional gambling, since money isn't exchanged, but more people are enjoying playing games, such as Words with Friends on their smartphones, or casino-inspired games on Facebook.

At the gaming conference Wednesday, experts will look at whether social gaming should be subject to regulation.

"There's a lot of interest in this field on the part of regulators and on the part of businesses both from the traditional gambling world and the start-up community because they have become a real phenomenon," said Mitchell Kamin, a partner at the law firm Bird Marella "There's lots of players, and people who actually pay to play."

Kamin, a Los Angeles based attorney, said regulators are closely monitoring established gaming companies that are looking to capitalize on the booming market for social casino games.

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