Internet Gambling Legislation Moving in the Right Direction for Casinos (LVS) (MGM)

January 3, 2012 9:01 AM EST
Online gambling is getting closer and closer to becoming reality in the U.S.

According to reports Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice is now more focused on who will be able to bring gaming to them, rather than whether Internet gambling will be a detriment.

The Justice Department recently issued a letter opening the door for cash-strapped states to bring online gambling to residents, excluding sports betting, which is great news and might have been a long-time coming.

In the past, much of the argument stems from the Wire Act of 1961, which doesn't specifically address online poker betting. The Act reads: "Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

Additionally, reports have said that only courts have authority to determine whether the Wire Act applies to poker wagers, and that the opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel is unlikely to be changed.

But, with a new election nearing, its unlikely that the Obama administration would tackle the topic of online gambling, and a new bill or amendment might not make it to Congress anytime soon.

Casino operators like Boyd Gaming (NYSE: BYD), Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS), MGM International (NYSE: MGM), and others, have been pushing for looser legislation on Internet poker playing, which is lower-margin when compared with traditional table games like blackjack and Pai Gow.

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