Casino Heads are Spinning
By Paul
A split among sponsors of differing bills to ban Internet gambling appears to be widening as casino executives prepare to decide whether to support either one.

Congressman Jim Leach issued a letter this week seeking support for his bill, which would outlaw Internet gambling payments by credit cards, checks and electronic fund transfers.

'We ... support the efforts of Bob Goodlatte and others to tighten law in this area, but whether or not such efforts reach fruition, (the Leach bill) creates a workable enforcement mechanism under current law,' Leach said in the letter sent to other House members.

Congressman Goodlatte introduced a more wide-ranging bill last November intended to abolish all forms of Internet gambling. Goodlatte said then he hoped to incorporate Leach's measure into his bill as an enforcement mechanism. 'Congressman Leach continues to support the Goodlatte legislation, but feels its much broader approach will make it more difficult to move in this coming session (of Congress),' said Bill Tate, Leach's chief of staff.

Mike Oxley, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and John LaFalce of New York, co-signed Leach's letter.

Meanwhile, members of the American Gaming Association are scheduled to discuss the Internet bills during a phone conference on Wednesday Feb. 13.

Although the association officially supports a ban on Internet gambling, its president, Frank Fahrenkopf, said there is a split among its board members. MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni supports Internet gambling, while Mandalay Resort Group Chairman Mike Ensign opposes it.

'We've got to make a decision whether to support both (Goodlatte and Leach), oppose both, declare neutrality or support one over the other,' Fahrenkopf said.

Fahrenkopf has expressed concerns about the Goodlatte bill, saying it favors the horse racing industry over casinos.

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