Nevada Assembly votes on Internet, other gambling bills |

Nevada Assembly votes on Internet, other gambling bills

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Internet gambling is a mouse click away from approval in the Nevada Assembly, winning 37-2 approval Wednesday but facing a second vote Thursday.

While AB296, by Assemblywoman Merle Berman, R-Las Vegas, has broad support, it will go to a second vote mainly because of concerns about a related measure, AB578, that imposes big fees on casinos that want to provide Internet gambling.

While Berman’s measure passed easily, AB578 failed on a 21-18 vote, one short of the necessary 22 ”ayes.”

Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, asked for another vote on the fee plan, saying, ”It’ll give the body an opportunity to examine the inner relationship between the two bills.” Assemblyman Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, then moved for the second vote on the main Internet gambling measure.

Anderson said Berman’s bill focuses on the policy issue of interactive gambling, and the fees in AB578 help cover the costs of regulating such gambling.

Without the fee plan, ”we’re left with the question of what the Gaming Control Board is going to do by its own devices,” said Anderson. ”It’s the prerogative of the Legislature to set (fees).”

AB578 requires a prepaid $1 million licensing fee every two years for Nevada casinos offering Internet gambling. In addition, application fees would be $100,000, and licensees would have to pay the 6.25 percent state gambling tax on winnings.

The bill would require slot manufacturers to pay fees as high as $250,000 if they produce Internet gambling software and equipment for casinos.

Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, opposed the fee proposal, saying, ”It allows only large properties to play.”

Carpenter added that the initial fee was so high many prospective operators would be discouraged from launching interactive gambling sites. Assemblyman John Lee, D-Las Vegas, opposed both bills, saying the high fee plan ”carves out an industry that only an elite few will be able to participate in.”

”I’m scared,” Lee said, adding that there are potential social problems that could be caused by Internet gambling in general, including gambling addictions, divorce and abuse.

The lower house also voted 37-3 to approve AB466, sponsored by Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, calling for a statewide gambling work card system.

Leslie said the bill creates a system that treats everyone fairly.

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