Net bet bill being drafted in Nevada

A state legislator is drafting a bill to legalize and regulate the operation of gambling Web sites based in Nevada.

Assemblywoman Merle Berman, R-Las Vegas, said Nevada needs to be in the race with Atlantic City on regulating Internet gambling. The New Jersey Legislature is debating a similar bill.

''The person who opens up shop first gets the repeat customer,'' Berman said Tuesday. ''But even more than Atlantic City, our competition is with California Indian gaming. California's got all the techies.''

New Jersey state Sen. John Bennett, a Republican, introduced a bill in May urging Congress to set up a framework of Internet gambling law that states can use in establishing their own legislation.

But a spokesman for Bennett said the bill is languishing in committee.

The Nevada Legislature starts starts its 2001 session on Feb. 5. The bulk of the bill drafts for the coming session are due Friday.

Berman said she looked at Bennett's bill, but got the idea of drafting a Nevada bill after attending Internet gambling sessions at conferences this year.

She said she hadn't been approached by casino operators, but has initiated meetings with a handful of them to gather their opinions and suggestions.

A Nevada law legalizing Internet gambling would face opposition from the powerful Nevada Resort Association, representing many major resorts in the state.

''We don't think there should be a casino in every home in the United States where gambling may not be conducted in a responsible manner and accessed by under-aged gamblers,'' said NRA president Bill Bible, a past chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and longtime opponent of Internet gambling.

But MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said the company believes Internet gambling should be legalized and regulated under the same regulatory standards by which Nevada casinos operate.

MGM Mirage and Harrah's have entered agreements with Silicon Gaming and, respectively, to co-develop games-for-prizes Web sites.

Park Place has a 19.9 percent stake in an Australian-based company Jupiters Ltd., which operates an e-wagering site,

Park Place owns, manages, or has interest in 28 properties operating as Bally's, Caesars, Paris, Flamingo, Grand and Hilton.

Congress failed to enact a law proposed this year by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.. that would have banned Internet wagering from U.S.-based computers. But lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice say such a law already exists in the form of the 1961 Wire Act.


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