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Bennett Case Arouses Concerns About Casino Privacy

7 May 2003

by Rod Smith

Casino officials Tuesday acknowledged deep concerns about possible violations of guest privacy policies in the wake of reports that 'internal casino documents' about morals czar William Bennett's gambling habits may have been leaked to reporters.

Industry sources in Las Vegas suggested details about Bennett's playing habits could have been leaked to reporters because of the way casinos use in-house slot cards to track customers' activities.

Newsmax.com, an electronic wire service branding itself as America's news page, quoted Brian Cahill, a spokesman for Park Place Entertainment in Atlantic City, as saying: "We are taking a look internally at the circumstances that surrounded these two articles. We're going to do all we can to find out how this information was disclosed."

The electronic magazine reported industry officials were concerned that Bennett's "outing," especially if the information did come from casino sources, could chill other high rollers' zeal for gaming in casinos.

Robert Stewart, Park Place's senior vice president for corporate communications, Tuesday declined to confirm or deny that his company has launched an investigation into the possible leaks. He also denied that Cahill told Newsmax.com that his company was investigating the matter. The Review-Journal was unable to reach Cahill.

Stewart, however, confirmed that Park Place views with great concern the disclosure of any information about any of its guests and said the release of information is contrary to all policies the company has about the privacy of its guests.

The Washington Monthly reported Friday that Bennett wagered - and lost - millions in four Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos, including the Bellagio and Caesars Atlantic City, over the past decade.

The magazine cited "internal casino documents" when it reported the former Cabinet secretary's total losses over the past decade were more than $8 million. On Monday, Bennett admitted to the gambling, but said his 'gambling days are over' because it was not the kind of 'example' he wished to set.

MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman added that while his company is concerned about the source of the information, the source "and whether it was anyone in a casino at all" is unclear.

"We need a little more information as to what records were received to know if they are casino documents or something else," he said.

Feldman also said MGM Mirage takes the problem of customer privacy very seriously.

"All employees sign a confidentiality agreement which specifically prohibits the release of confidential information and prescribes termination for violation of the policy," he said.

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