Issue 324
November 27 - December 3, 2006
Volume 6
page 1
 

This Issue

Gaming News

Casino City's November Sweepstakes

One 60-cent check: Reader suggestions on what to do

FullContactPoker switches software to keep U.S. players

Speaking Rock casino may reopen

Peppermill begins expansion

Show Time The Charlie Daniels Band at Mandalay Bay

Column Disturbing trend in casino player clubs by John Brokopp

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

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Online gambling a hot potato
By Liz Benson, our partner at the Las Vegas Sun

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While the gaming industry is heralding the appointment of casino-friendly Democrats to key positions of power in Washington, experts warn that it could take many years before Congress will be willing to consider regulating online gambling.

"If it comes up again, they're going to say, 'We've already dealt with that issue,' " said David Stewart, a Washington attorney who advises the American Gaming Association. "They were exhausted by this latest effort."

The American Gaming Association didn't fight or support the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act, a bill signed into law last month that further criminalizes Internet gambling - a legally suspect business conducted by non-U.S. companies. The association's two largest members, Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage, want to legalize Internet gambling in this country, but other members have been lukewarm to the idea. The group expects to decide at a board meeting next month whether to push for legislation that would study legalizing Internet gambling. Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., introduced such a bill in the last session of Congress that gained support from more than 40 co-sponsors.

Among a slew of Democrats perceived as friendly to the industry is Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., an outspoken liberal who will head the Financial Services Committee and who voted against the Internet gambling prohibition bill that originated in his committee under its chairman, Jim Leach, R-Iowa.

Even if more libertarian minds prevail in the online gambling debate, Stewart says it could take at least a decade for Congress to legalize Internet betting - dooming a $12 billion industry that has earned a place in mainstream culture to black-sheep status.

"They don't have the appetite for it," he said of members' desire to pursue a debate.

Opposed by a few religious conservatives in Congress and supported by companies believed to be operating illegally, Internet gambling has been a fringe issue with complex ramifications and little to gain politically for proponents.

Online poker players sent hundreds of e-mails and letters to members of Congress opposing the prohibition bill but were no match for Republican conservatives and their allies. Online gamblers are growing in number but don't yet have the political clout to influence legislation, Stewart said.

Rather than legalizing online wagering nationwide, Internet gambling expert I. Nelson Rose said Congress may eventually pass a law allowing states to opt into a regulatory system enabling Internet betting for in-state residents. A similar system enables gamblers to bet on horse races from remote locations in their home states as well as other states that choose to participate.

Short of that, states will likely seek to regulate Internet betting within their borders.

"I think states will make it a state's rights issue," said Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in California.
One effort is under way in his home state, where poker rooms are working on legislation that would legalize Internet poker wagering for California residents.

In 2003 the Nevada Legislature passed a bill allowing regulators to study whether Internet gambling could be regulated. The state Gaming Control Board heard testimony from technology companies with software claiming to pinpoint the location and identity of gamblers using satellites, online background checks and account information.
But regulators did not pursue the issue after receiving a letter from the Justice Department restating the feds' position against Internet gambling.

Nevada regulators considered appeals to legalize online gambling for Nevada residents but didn't pursue the matter, saying the Legislature intended for the state to consider the more lucrative prospects of taxing Internet gambling revenue beyond Nevada's borders.

While Nevada casinos don't want to run afoul of the feds, some local companies may seek the right to allow Nevadans to bet online in the years to come, Rose said.

Nevadans already can make sports bets from their home computers after registering at a casino and transmitting bet information over a secure line.

"If at-home sports betting is legal, then Internet gambling should be legal for Nevada residents," he said.


One 60-cent check: Reader suggestions on what to do
by Aaron Todd, Casino City

Last month, I wrote a column asking Casino City readers to suggest what I should do with my 60 cent check from PKR.com. I was hoping for both entertaining suggestions and interesting ideas on how I could use it to protest the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

Thanks to a series of thoughtful responses, I haven't been disappointed. Some of my favorites:

"I suggest you invest $0.50 in lottery tickets, I suggest the 3-7-2 box in the pick 3 game and use the remaining $0.10 on two pieces of Bazooka Joe." Liam M., Somerville, Mass.

"I would put half in low-risk mutual funds and give the other half to my friend who works in securities." Brendan H., Charlottesville, Va.

"Sign over the check to Bill Frist, mail it to him (Office of Senator Bill Frist, 509 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510), and explain that the money is from your never-activated online poker account, and request that because you can't play online poker, would he mind buying you a ticket for your favorite lottery game, Tennessee's 'Cash 3?'" Jay B., Brunswick, Maine

"The glass half full in me says get four buddies to each contribute a dime and buy a dollar scratch ticket and try your luck. The glass half empty in me says throw your 60 cents into Coinstar for grocery money because if you're worried about what to do with 60 cents, then groceries are probably not being purchased with ease in your world." Kristen C., Baltimore, Md.

"Assuming you don't desperately need the 60 cents, frame it, take a picture of it, and circulate the picture in an e-mail. In that e-mail, explain how the feds don't think that Americans should be free to gamble online." A.K., Suffern, N.Y.

Jay from Maine really seemed to capture the concept I was looking for, and I also liked A.K.'s idea to use the check as a rallying cry to protest this ridiculous law. I was just about to start writing the follow-up column, combining Jay and Adam's advice, when I got one final suggestion.

"I don't know if you got any ideas for your 60 cent windfall, but my wife Kimberly came up with a good one: buy a red paperclip and try and trade it for a house. Sure, it's been done, but perhaps there is a poker version that you can do?" Josh H., Littleton, Mass.

Josh is referring to Kyle MacDonald's "one red paperclip" project. The young Canadian writer made a series of trades, starting with one red paperclip and ending with a house. He made 14 trades in exactly one year to complete the mission, landing a house in Kipling, Saskatchewan a little over four months ago.

So here's my plan: While Kimberly suggested I buy a red paperclip with the money, I think a $0.60 check from my dormant Internet poker account has more value than a red paper clip. So instead, I'll start this bartering business with the physical 60-cent PKR check. And since my wife and I just bought a house over the summer, we don't really need another one. Hence, I'm taking Josh's advice and coming up with a poker equivalent: The entry fee and travel costs for the Main Event of the 2007 World Series of Poker.

Not to knock MacDonald, who I am blatantly copying, but his pursuit was selfish; he really wanted a house, and more than anything, wanted to be able to write a book about his trading experience.

I, on the other hand, would like to raise the awareness of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, because I believe that the majority of Americans do not believe that online gambling is evil or that U.S. financial institutions should be required by the government to block transactions to Internet gambling sites.

I'm hopeful that this project will help spread that message across America. Eventually, Congress will have to listen, and the U.S. will reverse course and regulate Internet poker.

And yes, the selfish side of me wants to play in the WSOP at a cost of 60 cents.

Ideally, I'm looking for these trades to be related to poker or gambling, but I'm willing to entertain any offer. So let the bartering begin. Send your offers to aarontodd@casinocity.com, and I'll keep you posted on the results.


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