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MGM Resorts CEO: Federal ban on online gaming wouldn’t end it

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PHOENIX – A bill before Congress that would prohibit all forms of Internet gambling would instead allow for it to continue unregulated, the CEO of MGM Resorts International said Friday.

“What I believe is in the best interest of Americans is to regulate, to get rid of the bad actors, to force them out of business,” James J. Murren said during a panel discussion at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ spring conference.

Since a 2011 U.S. Justice Department opinion said that states can allow online gambling, New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have done so and others are considering following suit.

Last year, a casino resort co-owned by MGM Resorts was the first to receive an Internet gaming permit from New Jersey.

Murren said regulating Internet gambling is a states’-rights issue.

Noting that his company has 62,000 employees, he said regulating rather than banning Internet gambling would mean that companies with a lot to lose if they act unethically would be in the market.

“Those are the kind of operators that should be the controls of this type of technology and this kind of gaming,” Murren said.

Ramesh Srinivasan, president and CEO of Bally Technologies, which develops casino games, said his company is working on technology that would advance mobile and online gaming.

This work includes developing technologies to link online players to their true identities, allowing companies like MGM Resorts to recognize a customer who is gambling in a casino, gambling online and gambling on his or her mobile device.

“We bring that world together and make it easy for companies like MGM to handle all that data: players, customers, all of them.”

Srinivasan said his company is adapting its technology and content to appeal to younger consumers and older consumers with increasingly young outlooks.

“We are moving with the trends as best as we can,” he said.

These trends include making games more interactive and social.

“People get along better with people they play a game with,” he said.

The gaming industry is expanding internationally. Macau, China, is a $46 billion market, according to Murren.

“We have a casino there that literally gushes cash,” he said.

Srinivasan said Macau has been lucrative for his company as well.

“Places like Macau have been very, very useful in terms of our business expansion, especially on the technology side but recently on the content side,” he said.

Murren said the success in other countries hasn’t hurt his company’s operations here.

“It has had absolutely no negative impact to Las Vegas, that’s the good news,” he said.