Net Gaming No Longer a Topic of Debate for NGISC

9 April 1999
The National Gambling Impact Study Commission met in Washington D.C. April 7-8 to prepare for the delivery of its final report in June. Forty minutes were set aside for Internet gaming, but the Commission needed little more than 40 seconds to address the issue.

The decision has already been made to recommend an all-out prohibition of cyber gambling, according to an NGISC source. The Commission's brief discussion Thursday consisted of a confirmation that the subcommittee, headed by Bill Bible, will recommend a ban and that it will develop a report with recommendations for enforcement.

The only area likely to avoid criticism come June is gambling at destination resorts such as those in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. State lotteries, Internet gaming and Indian gaming won't share this good fortune. "There are levels of harms from the various forms of gambling, and destination gambling would certainly be lower on the list than lotteries, video poker and the Internet," Commissioner James Dobson said. "I don't want to under-emphasize my concern about Las Vegas and Atlantic City. I think you can make a case for the social problems that exist there, but I am more concerned about what is proliferating across the country."

"I think the overall view is casino gambling if properly made part of a carefully crafted economic plan, can be a tremendous positive for a community," said American Gaming Association lobbyist Frank J. Fahrenkopf.

The Commission remains divided on sports wagering and horse racing. Dobson would like to see the Commission recommend a U.S. ban on sports betting in all 50 states. Bible disagreed, suggesting that each state be allowed to decide for itself if it wanted to allow sports wagering.

The hot topic in the pari-mutuel industry was the allowance of slot machines at racetracks. Commissioner Richard Leone said the horse racing industry should be prevented from placing slot machines at the horse track. Bible disagreed, however, he expressed his disapproval of the allowing of off-track betting parlors to become mini casinos. Commissioner John Wilhelm, international president of the Culinary Union, suggested that if states want to expand gambling horse racing tracks are where it should take place.

The final report is due to be released June 18.