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Rod Smith

Gambling Opponent: Merger May Slow Proliferation

27 July 2004

LAS VEGAS -- At least one opponent of gambling proliferation expects to get some new ammunition from an unlikely quarter: the planned merger of Harrah's Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment.

The $9.4 billion megamerger will not only create the largest and most geographically diverse gaming company in the world with operations in 16 states and plans to expand elsewhere, it should be a powerful catalyst for gaming foes, said Tom Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling.

"Competition between Harrah's and MGM (Mirage, which is buying Mandalay Resort Group to create the second largest company in the business) will be fierce," he said.

"They'll push growth for profits and the profits will come from problem gamblers, avid gamblers. That's going to simplify the job of fighting expanding gaming in the U.S.," he said.

Attracting more gamblers -- and more problem gamblers will be part of the mix -- will raise public health issues about addictive gambling, and that will be their downfall, Grey said.

"Politically, the higher visibility and the likelihood they'll push their product harder will create bigger problems (for expansion)," he said.

However, University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor and casino industry expert Bill Thompson said Harrah's should be one of the least likely targets for gaming opponents.

"Harrah's is one of their least likely targets. The company was the first to recognize that there is something called problem gambling, and the company is politically locked into states with over half the U.S. population," he said.

Gambling Opponent: Merger May Slow Proliferation is republished from