A Push for Legalization

1 March 2000
Advocates for the annihilation of online gambling in the United States are always welcomed to voice their sentiments loudly and clearly through both federal and state legislatures. It's not often that those in favor of regulation rather than prohibition get a word in, but a Caribbean company held by American businessmen is trying to do just that.

Mardi Gras Holding Group, Inc, an Antigua-based developer of live Internet casino games, initiated a new campaign for legalization by presenting a 13-page report to U.S. congressmen William Tauzin (R-Louisiana), John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Robert Scott (R-Virginia). Stocked heavily with data indicating the revenue potential of online gambling, the report calls for the U.S. government to enact "immediate legislation to legalize live casino gaming over the Internet with Federal and State tax/regulatory authorities and approved education/social programs receiving a whooping 75% of the revenue."

The report formally claims that legalized online gambling will (1) lower federal income taxes; (2) lower state income taxes; (3) create thousands of full time jobs at all wage levels; and (4) provide endless capital to education and social programs.

Specifically, it calls for the legalization of "live" games, the bread and butter Mardi Gras Holdings Group's business. "Internet gambling should not be 'virtual' with gamers depending on 'hardware devices based on the quantum mechanical uncertainty of tunneling electrons.'," the group stated in a press release issued Feb. 22. "Internet gambling should be legalized using LIVE DEALERS and operated by a company of clean, honest, hard working American businessmen and women who have the best interests of the United States of America in mind."

The campaign is backed by former FBI Special Agent Zack Shelton, a former member of the FBI Organized Crime Task Force in Chicago and Kansas City. Shelton is credited with clearing out the "Mafia skim from Las Vegas casinos" during his 28 year career with the United States Department of Justice.

Mardi Gras Holding Group Managing Director Bob Vernon is amazed that the U.S. government wants to prohibit the style of gambling his company provides. "If you had a way to lower taxes, create new jobs, and add a source of capital for education programs, wouldn't you do it?" Vernon asked.

Vernon says he envisions his company setting up a test market for its product--live HTML/DHTML casino games via streaming video--in which a major casino would invite some of its best customers to sit in six different rooms with an Internet or Intranet connection in each room and let them test the new software.

As far as the recently launched campaign goes, Vernon and his associates for now will sit back and give the congressmen some time to chew on the contents of the report--a period Vernon refers to is round one.

And after that?

"Round two will blow your mind," Vernon said. He wasn't generous with details, but the stage of the campaign he calls the "shot heard 'round the world," he says, will be the introduction of "one of the most powerful men in America," in Mardi Gras' corner.

Click here to view a PDF copy of the report.

Mark Balestra

Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.