Panel to meet in LV

Jan 6, 2004 5:22 AM

Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), will kick off the annual state lawmakers conference on Friday with a keynote address at Harrah’s in Las Vegas.

Fahrenkopf will address state legislators concerned with a host of casino and other gambling issues when the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) meet over the weekend of Jan. 9-11.

The AGA president will address the state lawmakers at a noon luncheon. His remarks will focus on what state lawmakers need to know to enact legislation that balances revenue and social issues that relate to gaming, especially the issue of spiraling taxes on gaming revenue.

Other casino gaming issues that will be discussed include internet wagering and cyber casinos, state shares of Indian gaming revenues, the impact of casino expansion on state lotteries, sports book regulation, the impact of anti-smoking laws at gaming locations, and the relationship of gaming and state budgets, as well as on how states address youth and problem gambling.

More than 150 state legislators, regulators, commercial casino and state lottery representatives from the U.S. and Canada, and Indian tribal representatives, are expected to attend the conference.

One hot topic is expected to be the drain of gaming revenue from legitimate venues to Internet casinos.

"Lost revenues from Internet gambling could be a budget-buster issue in many states," said Florida Senator Steven A. Geller, NCLGS president. "As state legislators continue to face severe revenue shortfalls going into 2004, the dollars illegally siphoned by offshore gaming platforms demand that public policy makers seriously address Internet wagering issues."

Geller added that the issue of Internet gaming is not just a question of lost revenue. "It is a question of social costs because important state programs can go unfunded," Geller said. "It is also, in balance, a question related to the social and individual costs of Internet as well as other types of gaming."

The NCLGS conference will give legislators from gaming states a forum to discuss the issue and take action on Internet wagering and other types of gaming, Geller said.

Nevada already has in place a statute prohibiting residents from placing bets on the Internet that travel outside state lines.

However, sports bettors in Nevada sometimes place "illegal" bets with offshore sports books, despite the presence of legal sports betting in Nevada.

Nevada regulators have said in the past they have no intention to pursue criminal prosecution of residents who illegally bet online (placing a bet by phone or computer that travels outside the state is a misdemeanor), and that they don’t have an estimate of how widespread Internet gambling is in the Nevada.

In addition to the issue of Internet gambling, the conference will also explore topics that include:

”¡ Slots at pari-mutuel racetracks

”¡ States’ share of tribal gaming revenues

”¡ The expansion of tribal gaming

”¡ The effect of casino gaming on lottery revenue

”¡ The impact of non-smoking legislation on casinos.

Highlights from the general schedule include Report from the Committee on Pari-Mutuels (Fri., 9:45 a.m.); The National Casino Gambling Experiment: Boon or Bane for State Governments (Sat., 10:15 a.m.); and the Legislators Round Table (Sun., 9 a.m.).

Noted panelists and speakers will include Bill Eadington of University of Nevada’s Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming; Mark Van Norman, executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association; and Gred Avioli, deputy commissioner and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.