Court ruling fires shot Across casinos’ bow!

April 30, 2002 10:44 AM
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NEW RULING REINFORCES WIRE ACT: Last week’s U.S. court ruling in New Jersey dealt a setback to offshore wagering, and fired a warning shot at Las Vegas casinos working to set up Internet gaming on England’s Isle of Man. The judges rejected the defendants’ claim that overseas bets are legal as long as gambling is allowed where the bets were actually placed.

Nevada regulators told GamingToday the decision reinforces the federal Wire Act, which prohibits electronic wagering across state lines.

"The message is, don’t accept bets from the United States,’’ one official told GamingToday. "Our Nevada licensees will be extra-cautious about this.’’

Neither MGM Mirage nor Station Casinos ”” both of which are licensed on the Isle of Man ””

have indicated any intention to pursue American customers from England . . . at least for now.

Marc McDermott, chief of the electronics division for the Gaming Control Board, said technical trickery continues to raise enforcement concerns over Internet gaming. Recently, state staffers testing web-based betting easily cloaked their location to make it appear they were located in Canada.

"We’re all waiting for the (U.S.) Department of Justice to take a position,’’ said one gamer.

Until then, hold onto your net bets.

RIGHT ON TARGET: Mike Conway, CEO of National Airlines, was right on target when he advised anyone who would listen that business was improving on his airplanes.

His prognostications were borne out last week when officials at McCarran International Airport released the results of arriving and departing passengers for the month of March. As expected the total number was down 7% with three of the largest carriers reporting passenger declines.

Southwest reported a drop of 4.8% while America West was down 14.5% and United fell 21.2%.

But National Airlines reported carrying 209,338 passengers, an increase of 4.3% while Delta Airlines moved 229,472 passengers, a modest jump of 0.7%

LE REVE MUST BE MORE THAN A DREAM: "It’s vitally important to the development of nearby properties," explained a Las Vegas Strip observer.

"Phil Ruffin has already indicated he will go forward with the development of a new casino resort on the New Frontier site across the street from the old Desert Inn location that Steve Wynn plans to make into the $1.635 billion Le Reve. Also, Ruffin has a deal to have Donald Trump put up a high-quality time-share unit on one side of the property while a well-known hotel company has plans for another section of the real estate.

"And what about Boyd Gaming whose Stardust has been stagnating across the street?

"Word is that they have about 60 acres of land that they would happily develop with a partner in a joint venture project.

"It all comes down to financing and Wynn’s reputation to sell the developments." he said.

IMPORTANCE OF ENTERTAINMENT: Just how important are the entertainment amenities being offered by the Las Vegas Strip casinos?

According to Bill Westerman, chairman of the Riviera Hotel/Casino, "50% of the people who attend our shows, gamble or eat with us."

And then, there is bingo and its importance as a draw to a gaming property. Although bingo brings in less than three-quarters of a million dollars, collectively, to all Nevada casinos in one year, the fact that it brings bodies to a property is very important.

Keep in mind, said Glenn Christenson, CFO of Station Casinos, Inc., whose properties rely on the "locals" market, "when the bingo sessions end, the players then play the slots."

A MAJESTIC MOVE: Kudos to Don Barden and his Majestic Investor Holdings LLC in selecting Bill Curran to chair the company’s Corporate Compliance Committee.

Barden, who took over three Fitzgeralds’ properties, including the one in Downtown Las Vegas, reached out to Curran upon entering the highly-regulated Nevada gaming market, intent on avoiding any regulatory problems.

Curran, former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, is highly-regarded nationally for his knowledge of the industry and the regulations that govern it.

IT’S CALLED GRABBING THE LOOT: As far as the Brits were concerned, activities of Gary Bowman’s American Sports Ltd. and its subsidiary, American Sports Betting Service, were perfectly legal. After all, the companies were licensed by the Isle of Man.

But that didn’t discourage federal agents from intercepting $1.3 million that the U.S. government alleged was wagered illegally in this country. The money was being processed by a New Jersey company incorporated in 1995 under the name of Intercash Financial Services. A local manager for the company was arrested, when the feds determined that the money represented wagering in the U.S. and Canada, and charged him with promoting gambling. He pleaded guilty and explained how the Bowman monies were being handled.

Of course, Bowman charged that his activities were perfectly legal. The courts however had a different opinion. "U.S. gambling laws reflect the strong public policies of the U.S. government, and the government is not required to tolerate activity that it defines as illegal merely because it affects someone who may live in a country where the activity is legal."