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Kevin Smith

VegasOne, for Now, Remains Vegas 'None'

16 November 2000

Less than a month after being introduced to the public, a plan that would have seen the city of Las Vegas enter a partnership with an online casino has been put on hold.

While officials with both the city of Las Vegas and, the company spearheading the movement, admit anything is possible in the future, an online casino with the city's seal of approval won't be going online anytime soon.

The issue, which has been plagued with controversy since it fist became public, was pulled from the agenda at the Las Vegas city council meeting on Wednesday, giving little hope to the idea.

Jim Jimmerson, a Las Vegas attorney who sits on the board of, read a letter to the council yesterday making it official the company was pulling its offer off the table due to a lack of solidarity among the council in supporting the move.

Although Jimmerson and his fellow investors have put a partnership with Las Vegas on hold, they aren't counting themselves out for good.

"This didn't really catch us by surprise," he said. "We have a very positive outlook on things and sparked enough interest in plenty of people with this idea."

The withdrawal comes two weeks after the mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, who had been a big advocate of the idea, pulled out of the debate. Goodman agreed to abstain from voting on the issue after learning that the entrepreneur behind the move, Bob Stupak, was a one-time client of Goodman's law firm.

The absence of the mayor in the movement to get the site going brought about a domino effect., which has former MGM Grand Chairman and President Larry Wolf, ex-Caesars Palace President and COO Dan Reichartz, and one-time Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Phil Hannifin Cabot on its board, soon saw a lobbying effort mounted against it.

Officials with both the MGM Mirage and the Nevada Resort Association joined forces with Sen. Richard Bryan opposing the move.

Jimmerson admits the NRA and MGM had good reason to oppose the deal.

"They (MGM Mirage) are doing their own branding right now in relation to online gambling," he said. "Many of the members of the NRA are also. They didn't want to see someone get a leg up on them before it is made legal in the United States."

NRA President Bill Bible had a legal opinion written by gaming lawyer Jack Godfrey. The document reiterated feelings of those opposed to the plan. The document argued that the venture was in violation of state and federal laws against Internet gambling.

But Jimmerson felt no laws were going to be broken considering the site was going to be setup offshore, like most online gambling sites.

Others in the industry were opposed to the issue on grounds that the city would be venturing into a private enterprise.

Adding to the mounting lobbying movement against the online casino, two other city councilmen had to pull out of the voting. Both agreed to abstain because of conflicts of interest.

Some of the remaining council members were voicing concerns over the issue, and without unanimous support from the council, it was decided to remove the issue from the table.

Under the agreement the city would have given its name and official seal of approval to the site in exchange for royalties.

It was purposed that would give 25 percent of the casino's yearly cash flow. It was estimated that over the 20-year life of the deal the city could pocket $1.2 billion. Experts argued however, that the predictions were unrealistic considering the agreement's mandate that the proposed site would not take bets from players in the U.S., where a high percentage of earnings originate for most online casinos.

Proponents felt that a casino that legally used the city's name would be a major draw to online gamblers weary of fraudulent sites.

Jimmerson's lineup of fellow investors, dubbed a "dream team" of gambling regulators and experts, knew that if it could get the seal of approval from the city of Las Vegas, legitimacy would be given to the site.

"Nevada and Las Vegas have the most stringent guidelines for getting licensed and approved," he said. "We knew if we could meet those standard, people would know the company had the same high standards."

In the meantime, Jimmerson said the concept will move on. He admitted the door is still open for the Las Vegas option, but other cities have been mentioned for a partnership as well. Initial talks have been made with Atlantic City and others may be soon to follow.

"We are not going to leave any stone unturned," Jimmerson said. "Although this is a negative, the positives far outweigh the negatives at this point and we have a lot going for us. We have aligned ourselves with quality people and we think this idea will stick, we just need to find out where."

VegasOne, for Now, Remains Vegas 'None' is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith