Washington may soften hard Internet line

Nov 25, 2002 10:51 PM

   Maybe Washington is ready to follow an old adage — if you can’t beat them, join them.

   Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich, introduced a bill this week to create a five-person commission to study issues related to the regulation of gambling in cyberspace. In the past, nearly all the other bills before Congress dealing with Internet gaming have been aimed at stamping it out.

   “I have always believed that this approach reflects the fundamental misunderstanding of the Internet,” Conyers said last week in the nation’s capital. “Most Internet gaming sites exist outside the U.S. and law enforcement.”

   The Conyers bill has no chance of passing this year since the Senate has adjourned for the year. However, the Democrat indicated he would bring the motion up for the next Congress.

   Congress, for years, has been attempting to stop Americans from betting at Internet casinos, most of which are located in the Caribbean, Latin America or other offshore locales.

   Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, pushed a bill through the House of Representatives in October to make it illegal for Internet gaming sites to accept credit card transactions, but the measure died in the Senate.

   Leach indicated he would try again next year but, according to one of his spokesmen, has not seen the Conyers bill.

   Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, said he group might support a gambling commission, but hasn’t made a final decision.


AC approves beer on beach

   An ordinance was unanimously adopted last week to turn Atlantic City beachfront casinos into taverns.

   The ordinance will allow beachgoers to sip beer, wine and cocktails while soaking up the sun. The measure also expands the city’s special-events permit policy, which did allow limited sale of alcohol.

   “The ordinance is necessary to keep Atlantic City competitive at a time when the resort is losing its stranglehold on casino gaming,” said Michael Conley, political director for Local 54. “But we have something that no others have, we have our beach.”

   Cathy Burke, owner of the Irish Pub, saw it differently.

   “They’re selling the city away on the installment plan,” she said. “We’ve already had to compete with free drinks. How are we going to compete with this?”


Casino planned near Cincy

   A Kentucky developer wants to build a $200 million dollar casino in Owensboro just across the river from Cincinnati.

   “If you look at these numbers, there’s nothing hardly in this for me,” said John Bays, owner of the Evansville (Ind.) and Owensboro Executive Inn. “I’m willing to do this because the Owensboro people have treated me so well and given me the respect that I’ve never had.”

   His projections call for the casino, waterpark, 20,000-seat auditorium and convention center to bring at least $30 million a month to Daviess County. Bays said he could build the casino without tax payer help.


Reno casino to open

   The Reno Golden Phoenix Hotel Casino & Resort will open later this week, after gaining approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission for a gaming license.

   The 604-room downtown property, formerly the Flamingo Reno, has been operating its hotel and restaurant since April. The state Gaming Control Board granted approval on Nov. 6.

   The 45,000 square foot gaming area will include 750 slot machines and approximately 28 table games.


Key West ship changing

   The 120-foot gambling ship, Rendevous, has new ownership that has plans to make the vessel more popular to locals and tourists in Key West, Fla.

   The former ownership has made plans to open a casino in Central America, according to the ship’s new general manager Marius VanDerMerwe.

   Michael Marrone took ownership of Rendevous along with family friends Michael Natola and Richard Merigan, who made up Key West Casino Boats, Inc.

The cruise ship employs about 30 workers.