Fireworks Anticipated at Nevada iGNA Conference
This week’s iGaming North America (iGNA) 2014 conference in Las Vegas is expected to offer heated debate and cutting-edge insight into many of the issues facing the new regulated United States online gambling market. Expected to be among the highlights of the conference is a resumption of hostilities between the Sheldon Adelson-led Las Vegas Sands Corporation and much of the rest of the Nevada and United States gambling world.
Wednesday’s opening-session panel, titled “Visionaries’ Perspective—Is I-gaming the Problem or the Solution,” is expected to pit LVSands VP of Government Relations Andy Abboud against Caesars Interactive Entertainment CEO Mitch Garber in a spirited con-v-pro debate.
Abboud, the LVSands mouthpiece of Adelson’s anti-online gambling effort, is making his first political appearance on the topic since his embarrassing performance before a US House of Representatives subcommittee last December. At that time, Abboud’s statements on online gambling were quickly debunked by other hearing witnesses and subcommittee members, who offered evidence of LVSands’ own online-gambling opportunities, a blatantly hypocritical reversal of the stated Adelson / LVSands position. Abboud also at one point stated that online poker was okay before reversing himself later in the same hearing, likely after a text-message haranguing from bossman Adelson.
Garber, an experiened online-gambling exec who moved to Caesars following a similar stint at PartyGaming, takes the pro-online gaming side of the debate, which is to be refereed by World Poker Tour founder Steve Lipscomb.
Here’s how iGNA bills the matchup: “This session will undoubtedly offer widely divergent views on the future of iGaming in the US. One advocate will discuss the risks of online gambling and the need for prohibition. Another will weigh in as a proponent of the legalization and regulation of iGaming as a necessary means to proactively address potential concerns. This lively debate will offer a view of the future of the industry in the US, and perspectives of these prominent leaders will allow listeners to hone their own opinions as to how the industry should grow and evolve.”
About 700 industry insiders are expected to attend the three-day conference at Planet Hollywood, though the conference is closed to the public. Attendees, each of whom have paid an average of more than $1,000 to attend, include politicians from states with iGaming interests, industry, casino and service-provider execs, and a handful of local media able to make the affair.
Other interesting talks on the slate include a Day 1 “2014 US Policy Roundup” on legal and legislative matters, with pro-online gambling legislators Ray Lesniak (NJ) and Lou Correa (CA) among that session’s panelists. Day 2 includes the conference’s keynote address, offered by Ultimate Gaming CEO Tom Breitling, whose company launched Nevada’s first real-money online poker site almost a year ago.
Other interesting Day 2 topics include a mock trial on sportsbetting, a forum on the growing niche of online fantasy sports, and an examination of issues facing the online payment-processing industry amid the new US regulated environment.
IGNA’s third and final day starts with a welcoming address and industry observations from Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. Other potential highlights include a look at the possibilities offered by interstate and international player-pooling compacts, a seminar of public confidence and player trust in the online-gaming industry and its offerings, and a examination of whether consistency is possible amid a myriad of regulatory and compliance requirements and oversight bodies as North America’s iGaming industry matures and expands.
FlushDraw will be monitoring highlights of the conference, and will bring our readers up to date on any important happenings.