BUSINESS

Did Harrah’s Loveman make a pitch for online gaming at G2E?

TAGs: G2E 2010, Gary Loveman, Harrah's Entertainment

Harrahs-loveman-online-pitch-g2eHarrah’s Entertainment CEO/President Gary Loveman delivered the keynote address at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Loveman issued an impassioned defense of the gaming industry against its many detractors, yet made no mention whatsoever about his company’s performance or future plans. Actually, we’re not entirely sure about that last part.

According to Loveman, “It should offend us every day that adults can’t entertain themselves in the way that they want to when they have access to so many other things.” Loveman also noted that “the vast majority of people cannot conveniently access our services, and that is a big problem. People who want to use our services have to get on an airplane, make an international trip or drive hours for something that we could provide.”

While many in attendance likely assumed Loveman was lamenting the fact that land-based casino companies are only operating in 13 American states, we suspect the convenience of which Loveman spoke had a less earthbound and more digital flavor. After all, in terms of convenience, accessing an online gaming site from the comfort of your living room sure beats getting on a plane. In other words, Loveman probably doesn’t much care how consumers access a gaming product, so long as it’s ‘we’ who provide them that access.

Loveman’s company is already in the online casino game overseas via its Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment offshoot. But Harrah’s has its eyes on the US prize, which is why it leads the pack in terms of dollars spent lobbying the fat cats in Washington. Earlier this year, Loveman told Reuters that US legalization of online poker would generate billions of dollars in revenue and that, as the owner of the World Series of Poker brand, Harrah’s “would enjoy a substantial portion” of those billions.

So thanks, Gary, for standing up to the anti-gaming bullies in such an altruistic, entirely magnanimous fashion. How can we ever thank you? Oh right… Billions of dollars.

Of course, Loveman may simply not have wanted to talk about his company’s current plans because Harrah’s planned IPO is reportedly “struggling to get to the finish line,” as a source told the New York Post. Seems underwriters and potential investors in the debt-heavy casino chain can’t come together on a price of the offering, in part because no one can say for sure whether internet gambling will become legal in the US. Hey, here’s an idea… Why don’t they ask Gary? Bet he knows!

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