Caesars’ Gary Loveman Believes Daily Fantasy Sports Could Legalize iPoker

Posted on August 7th, 2015 by Jon Pineda
Gary Loveman Caesars CEO sports betting online poker legalization

Former Caesars CEO Gary Loveman points to fantasy sports legalization as one potential avenue that might extend to permitting online poker on the federal level. (Image: John Gurzinski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Gary Loveman enjoyed a storied career as a gambling executive, joining Harrah’s in 1988 as COO and eventually taking over the title of CEO in 2003, captaining the casino conglomerate and mitigating the volatile waters that inherently come with the industry over the next 12 years until his resignation in February.

Opinions on his leadership are mixed as he led the company to the multinational corporation it is today, but only to step down after the company split into two units, one in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

However, one thing is for certain and that’s the fact Loveman has long been a proponent of online gambling.

Speaking with Nevada Public Radio, a member station of NPR, the former executive said the legalizing of online poker and reversal of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 might come by way of a surprising market.

Asked whether he believes additional states will join Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, Loveman said, “The solution to this is going to come from an unexpected place.

The major sports leagues in the United States, led by Adam Silver of the NBA, have decided they favor betting on sports, which is an online experience.”

Sports Betting, Sports Gambling

Sports betting, more specifically daily fantasy sports (DFS) betting, is largely looked at as a game of skill, not chance.

Although most poker fans claim the same holds true for their beloved game, the difference has largely given outlets like DraftKings and FanDuel an ability to provide Internet betting options on sporting events.

DFS is legal in almost all states, while sports betting is currently confined to Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana, but the general mood among commissioners and chairpersons of the four major leagues, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and National Football League, seems to be changing.

The NHL is actually a part owner of DraftKings, as is New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a stark change of opinion from when the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL sued the state of New Jersey for considering legalizing sports betting. 

Though NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in April, “We oppose sports gambling,” many others involved with the sport oppose him following the hypocrisy surrounding his suspending Tom Brady for four games for “Deflategate” while handing Ray Rice a two-game ban for domestic violence.

Regardless of whether calls for his resignation or replacement are heard, Goodell will likely be looking for a bit of good press, and that could come from joining his colleagues in support of legalized sports betting.

“Once the NFL moves to the point where they in fact favor this, I think you will see a federal action that legalizes sports betting,” Loveman said. “Once that Rubicon has been crossed, I think poker will very naturally fall in because it has a lot of similarities to fantasy sports.”

Online Poker Fantasy

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, fantasy sports leagues are games of skill because “managers must take into account a myriad of statistics, facts and game theory in order to be competitive.” What casino game does that seem to mirror?

Loveman’s opinion certainly comes with merit. Poker is the one game where players compete against one another instead of the house, and even the Random House Dictionary agrees, defining “poker” as “a card game of bluff and skill.”

But Loveman hasn’t been correct on all of his foresights. Talking about Caesars’ bankruptcy and his ultimate downfall, Loveman said, “The issue here was we privatized the company at precisely the most inopportune moment in retrospect.”

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