AGA considers alternative to online gambling prohibition
By Bradley Vallerius
"The board will consider whether or not to support legislation in the new Congress calling for an independent study of Internet gambling to see if it can be properly regulated, controlled, taxed and licensed here in the United States," said AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf.
"My guess is that they (the board) are going to say let's go ahead and do it."
Representing the U.S. commercial casino industry, the AGA strongly opposed Internet gambling throughout the late 90's, but its position grew unclear after the turn of the century.
"Our policy changed back in April when we took a position that we thought the best way to go was to have an independent commission look at it," said Fahrenkopf.
AGA board members who will meet in Las Vegas on December 6 to discuss the matter include MGM Mirage CEO Terri Lanni, Boyd Gaming CEO William Boyd, Harrah's Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman and Wynn Resorts CEO Stephen Wynn, among others.
In May of 2006, Nevada Representatives Jon Porter and Shelly Berkley introduced a bill calling for the creation of a Congressional Internet Gaming Study Commission as an alternative to legislation aimed at prohibiting online gambling in the U.S., but the bill made little headway. Both Porter and Berkley won re-election last week.
Fahrenkopf said the last time the AGA revisited the issue it preferred to have the study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences rather than by a Congressional Commission so that the researchers are devoid of lobbying influence.
"If it came back saying that it can be regulated and controlled then we would then take the next step I assume, and see if we couldn't get some support for legalization by states" he added.
"But that's a long way down the road."
Legislation aimed at prohibiting Internet gambling in the U.S. was signed into law last month amid heavy criticism.