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AGA CEO Says Internet Gambling May be Back on the Agenda

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor

               Despite the Bush administration’s “midnight drop” submission of the new regulations for the UIGEA, the American Gaming Association says that Congress may consider a legalized online gaming industry. According to a report in the Reno Gazette-Journal, AGA CEO Frank Fahrenkopf feels that internet casino gambling will be the subject of much attention in the next few years.

                Fahrenkopf expects that the need to tax gaming income, with the slope of the U.S. economy the main priority for upcoming administration, will eventually be the reason for its legalization. “There have been projections circulated on the Hill that it can raise billions of dollars in new federal revenue,” he said at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. “So we can expect that the whole issue of internet gambling will be front and center in the next Congress.

                “Federal lawmakers see that potential tax revenue from Internet gaming could fuel their legislative agenda.”

                The AGA is a major organizer of the Gaming Expo, which could attract as many as 30,000 attendees from around the world.

                Fahrenkopf continues, “Congress has adopted a pay-as-you-go system. So any Congressman or Senator who introduces a piece of legislation that is going to cost something will also have to show how they are going to pay for it, either by cutting spending in one place or raising taxes in another. So we know under those circumstances, they will be looking around at a place to get additional revenue.”

                The influential executive has not said it will be an easy task however, warning that any push to legalize online casinos will be faced with years of anti-gaming work. Fahrenkopf alluded to the passing of the UIGEA last week as the Bush administration makes its exit and the efforts of the Massachussets House Financial Services Committee chairman and Democratic Representative Barney Frank to challenge this legislation.

                Frank has continued to argue for the overturn of the UIGEA, the bill passed to prohibit the transfer of funds from financial institutions to internet gambling firms, claiming that its regulations are difficult both to enforce and to interpret as far as what is considered “illegal internet gambling.” He is confident that the upcoming administration will be more lenient toward online gaming.

                “With the Obama administration, you wouldn’t see these bad regulations,” Frank told

                There is also the issue of land casinos and their operators. The land casino market is already in distress, and with the addition of internet casino gambling, some feel this could be the end to the land market altogether.

                Fahrenkopf addressed the mixed feelings of various Nevada gaming companies on internet casino gambling saying, “If it were legalized, I know that Harrah’s, which now owns the World Series of Poker, would be extremely interesting in getting into that market. We know that MGM has been bullish on Internet gaming for a long time. Steve (Wynn)…I don’t know what he would do and I don’t know what some of the other operators would do.”