Pennsylvanian Lawmakers Briefed On Internet Gambling


10th June, 2015 at 08:57:11

Caesars Interactive execs explains technologies in use prior to political hearing.

A senior executive from Caesars Interactive Entertainment, Marco Ceccarelli, gave Pennsylvanian lawmakers a demonstration Tuesday of the advanced technologies used by online casino operators to ensure that internet punters are within state borders, and that their ages and identities are verified.

The demonstration took place at the Capitol in Harrisburg a day prior to a scheduled hearing by lawmakers on Wednesday morning.

Demonstrating a real-time interactive map using cellular and WiFi triangulation to display the exact locations of everyone logged onto Caesars Interactive games, Ceccarelli explained in detail how geo location, tracking, identity and age verification and responsible gambling technology all interact to ensure compliance with state laws and protect the consumer.

Ceccarelli said that properly regulated operators enable players to monitor and control their gambling experience and empower them to set deposit limits, time limits and net loss limits, to avoid losing more than a certain amount every month.

Another Caesars executive, Michael Cohen, told lawmakers that there are thousands of websites that illegally facilitate online gambling by US gamblers, typically operated from outside the USA. He said these operators offer less consumer protection and contributed nothing to state taxes.

Cohen said that in order to register for online gambling, a potential player must go through several checks that include determining his or her age, address and Social Security number.

The demonstration was well-timed, given that state Sen. Kim Ward has scheduled the Senate Community Economic and Recreational Development Committee hearing on Wednesday morning to give casino representatives a chance to address online gaming.

Ward says lawmakers haven't yet determined a potential tax rate for online gaming, and Cohen flagged the higher cost of technology that operator's face as something to keep in mind.

He cited one study that found a 14% tax rate would lead to a gross profit of only 7% for the online gaming operator.

"If the tax rate is the same as the slot machines in the brick-and-mortar casinos... no one will participate," Cohen said. "It's a license to lose money."

At 55 percent, Pennsylvania has one of the highest tax rates in the nation on land-based slots.

Cohen also assured brick and mortar operators that online gambling does not pose a competitive threat.

"Actually, it's the opposite effect. We've seen no cannibalization," he said. "We've seen that more players are coming to the bricks and mortar casinos because they've been playing online."

He explained that online gaming attracts a different demographic, with 60% of online gamblers in the 21 to 39 age bracket

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