MGM Mirage hits out US legislators
By paul
The latest attempt to stop Internet gambling in the US – by making the financial transactions illegal – is misguided and will do nothing to stop offshore gambling sites soliciting US business, says MGM Mirage Online president Bill Hornbuckle.

'What he has tried to do is take the banking and financial institutions out of Internet gaming,' he said at a gathering Friday of the Financial Executives Gaming Forum.

The Kyl bill would ban the use of credit cards and bank debit cards in Internet gaming. Without such payment methods available, MGM MIRAGE's Isle of Man Internet gaming operation would not be able to expand to serve US gamblers should other legal hurdles be cleared. It would do nothing, however, to limit other, unregulated offshore Internet sites from transacting with US gamblers, who would still be able to use unregulated online billing plans to fund their accounts.

Hornbuckle says this will encourage the unregulated sites to pursue the US market more aggressively. The bill, according to Hornbuckle, illustrates a lack of knowledge of the gaming industry.

'The core issues here are not understood,' he said. 'If you are going to try to control Internet gambling, I suggest you please try to understand it. This won't stop Internet gambling.'

MGM MIRAGE's Internet gaming efforts market to about eight countries - countries, Hornbuckle says, that are the only ones that have no statutory regulations banning or limiting the activity.

Before the operations were launched, the company established more than 3,000 pages of operational procedures, he said. That effort was necessary to ensure the jurisdictions that licensed MGM MIRAGE casinos in the US - Nevada, New Jersey and Mississippi - would be comfortable with the operation, Hornbuckle said.

'The task at hand was to tell how we are going to do this business and how we can make it work,' he said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun. 'What we had at stake was our reputations and our licenses. ... We've proven that we can regulate the space.'

That is done, Hornbuckle said, by treating the Internet casino like a Strip operation.

'We treat the online casino as if it were the casino sitting out front of the Bellagio,' he said.

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