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Atlantic City Casinos Oppose Internet Gambling Bill

9 February 2001

Atlantic City's casino operators have come down squarely against a bill in the New Jersey legislature that would allow them to offer Internet gambling.

In a letter dated Jan. 29 to Assemblymen Anthony Impreveduto and Neil Cohen, Timothy Wilmott, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ), said that Internet gambling may be impossible to regulate and would work against the re-development of Atlantic City, which casinos were supposed to help accomplish.

Impreveduto and Cohen, Democrats from northern New Jersey, introduced a bill Jan. 18 that would permit licensed casinos in Atlantic City to operate Internet gambling sites, with the Web servers to be housed in their casinos. The online casinos would be taxed the same as real-world ones, and would be subject to regulation by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

In the letter, Wilmott said CANJ represents all of the existing casinos in the city and the owner of one that's under construction. The letter states:

"Although we understand that the spirit of the bill is to permit Atlantic City casinos the freedom and flexibility to offer to the public new gaming options in the form of internet gambling games, it is our belief that under no circumstances could such gaming be properly regulated.

"Although the bill in broad terms grants to the Casino Control Commission the authority to promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to address issues of compulsive and underage gambling, we believe that the very nature of internet gaming would confound every effort that might be made by casinos to abide by such regulations.

"That is to say, the remote, anonymous and overly convenient nature of participating in a gambling game in one's own home cannot under any circumstances be sufficiently policed so as to prevent participation by persons under the legal gaming age or persons who are or may become problem gamblers.

"CANJ believes that in order to remain faithful to the spirit and original intent of the Casino Control Act, the legislature, when formulating legislation affecting Atlantic City casinos, should focus not on peripheral issues such as internet gaming, but rather on enacting incentives for developers to build more hotel rooms, provide more amenities and entertainment and to otherwise continue the re-development of Atlantic City.

"We believe that the internet gaming legislation now under consideration works contrary to that guiding principle to the extent that in effect it encourages the gaming public to stay home."

Wilmott also is a regional executive of Harrah's Entertainment, which last fall added play-for-fun casino games to its Web site and has said it wants to be ready if Internet gambling ever becomes clearly legal and regulated in the U.S.

Shortly after Impreveduto and Cohen introduced their bill, Donald Trump, who controls three casinos in Atlantic City, told The Press of Atlantic City that allowing Internet gambling "could be good for the casino industry."

In a story in The Press today, however, Trump executives said they fully support the CANJ stand on the Impreveduto/Cohen bill.

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