Panel to tackle Internet gambling issues in Nevada |

Panel to tackle Internet gambling issues in Nevada

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – The state Gaming Commission will consider cyberspace next month when it tackles the question of online gambling in Nevada.

State lawmakers recently ordered the five-member panel to develop rules that would OK Internet gambling from within the state, but only if several conditions are met.

”We’re going to invite experts, and they’ll explain what they think in simple terms,” Gaming Commission Chairman Brian Sandoval said in outlining plans for hearings July 31 and Aug. 1 in Las Vegas. ”We expect the hearings to generate a lot of interest.”

The commission must first determine whether Internet gambling is legal in the United States.

Federal prosecutors have argued the multibillion-dollar industry is barred by a 40-year-old federal law adopted to prevent interstate phone betting.

The Bush administration has yet to announce a position on Web gambling, although Sandoval hopes to soon meet with Justice Department officials to discuss Attorney General John Ashcroft’s stance on the issue.

The regulatory panel also must prove that current technology can prevent betting by children and residents of states and countries where online wagering is illegal.

Then the commission will craft rules to permit the practice.

”These are two big steps,” Sandoval said, noting that it could take as long as two years for the state to adopt regulations permitting e-wagering.

The Wall Street investment banking firm Bear, Stearns & Co. estimates that Internet gambling sites will win $2.5 billion this year, $3.5 billion in 2002 and $5 billion in 2003.

There are about 1,400 Internet gambling sites, with many of them taking action from bettors in the United States.

By comparison, Nevada casinos won $9.6 billion from gamblers in 2000, and paid $560.1 million in state gambling taxes during the 2000 fiscal year, according to Nevada Gaming Control Board figures.

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