Online Gambling IPO

The large UK gambling house, Betfair, announced plans for an IPO yesterday.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been a shareholder in PartyGaming for a long time now, and I’m anticipating the time when online poker (at least, if not online sports betting, etc) will be re-legalized in the U.S. from both an investor’s and a poker player’s point of view.
I think I also mentioned previously on this blog that the time for such discussions seems likely to be near, as we look for new sources of revenue, and the “tax and regulate” model for online casinos starts looking fiscally attractive.
What will be interesting, of course, is that what’s fiscally attractive to legislators isn’t always morally attractive.  I don’t really have much interest in debating the merits or morals of online gambling here.  I think that in general, readers will already understand that I’m in favor of personal freedom and personal responsibility, which means allowing people to do what they want.  I even agree with Barney Frank on this.  I think the objections to online gambling are often especially hypocritical, considering that most states have easily accessible lotteries, while others have abundant OTB parlors (off track betting).
I also want to point out that poker is a game of skill, and that I would definitely view it differently from online blackjack.  Sports betting is a tricky one – I guess you could also say it’s a game of skill (handicapping) , although I’d say that the vast majority of the people who do it probably don’t have the necessary skill to do it profitably.  On the other hand, you can probably make the same argument about poker.
Finally, I found it interesting that Harrah’s has been developing their own WSOP branded online site, where they are trying to develop a play-money player base, with prizes as the incentive.  I always expected the Vegas big boys to simply buy one of the existing online poker infrastructures if/when online poker is re-legalized, but Harrah’s may be trying to build their own generic site.  They do have the advantage of the WSOP (World Series of Poker) brand.

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