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Emily D. Swoboda

Nevada Policy-makers Learn

14 April 2000

It was a standing room only crowd at the Nevada Gaming Commission meeting as they undertook a day of training on Internet gaming issues. It was a comprehensive review that started with definitions of a URL and browsers.

Las Vegas-based attorney Tony Cabot designed the daylong training at the request of the commission. He covered technical and legal issues while Fernando DiCarlo of IGSS, a Toronto based Internet gaming software supplier, drove the computer during a demonstration of sites and gaming software. Tony Fontaine of Station Casinos got in to the finer points of the technology and the types of networks which are currently allowable under Nevada law. Eugene Christiansen of Christiansen Capital Advisors offered a helpful industry overview to put things in perspective.

But the most revealing section was a freewheeling panel discussion of the pros and cons. The "antis" were represented by Gerry Waldron, outside legal counsel for the National Football League, and Alan Kesner, an Assistant Attorney General from Wisconsin and primary author of the report on the topic for the National Association of Attorneys General. The "pro" side was handled by Frank Catania, former Director of Gaming Enforcement for New Jersey and Sue Schneider, CEO of The River City Group and Chairman of the Interactive Gaming Council.

During that period there was much discussion of how the industry and particularly regulation of it is progressing internationally, the effect of the proposed federal ban on internet gaming and the appropriate roles of both the state and federal government in regulation.

On a day when a Congressional committee voted to prohibit Nevada sportsbooks from taking bets on college sports, the commission may have felt particularly under siege since they were quite frank with the representative from the NFL about their position on this topic. Commissioner Auge Gurrola began the questioning by asking Waldron how many people that attend their games wager on them and what would happen to attendance if sports gambling was completely illegal. When he proceeded to defend the League's "entertainment" as standing on its own, he said that "gambling was not a part of the NFL's success" and began talking about the excitement on Mondays back at the office. Commissioner Arthur Marshall quipped, "I guess that depends on how you bet on the game?"

But there was much discussion about the so-called Kyl bill and its enforceability. Commissioners asked just how effective enforcement might be and if resources were being committed to enforcement if the bill passed (the answer was "No.")

Commission Chairman Brian Sandoval asked with a preface about "following the money" why Congress didn't go after the credit card companies in the bill. Waldron said that relationships with the banking industry were strained by a recent fight over a bankruptcy bill so they didn't necessarily want to pinpoint the credit card industry in the law enforcement process as they had ISPs. In reality, however, the credit card issue has been drug into debate on the bill as evidenced by the recent mark-up meeting in the House Judiciary Committee.

Other questions from the Commission touched on compulsive and underage gambling, tribal gaming, states rights and extraterritorial enforcement of any bans and the success of Australian regulation.

Where this leads the Gaming Commission, it's uncertain. But it has clearly opened up the debate on the policy level in a state that has been exercising its own "long arm" in recent sting operations with a Nevada licensee who is also licensed in Australia. It's brought the subject out in the open and the training will certainly stimulate debate among the Commission, Gaming Board, licensees and possibly legislators in the state.

Nevada Policy-makers Learn is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda