Gambling states group proposes online bet rules

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A national group of legislators from states where gambling is legal is recommending standards that states considering legalizing Internet gambling might adopt.

Friday's report from the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States comes amid a contentious, costly battle over whether Internet gambling should expand beyond the three states where it is already legal — or whether it should be banned across the country.

The upstate New York-based group issued a framework for state legislatures to consider as they ponder legalizing Internet gambling, which is currently legal only in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. It says it does not take a position for or against Internet gambling.

"As a group of legislators responsible for sound gaming public policy in our respective states, (the council) recognizes the threats, as well as the possibilities, involved in new technology and Internet gaming," said its chairman, Florida state Rep. James Waldman . The group "wants to ensure that an effective system is in place for those that do allow intrastate Internet gaming, and that policy standards are in place to promote security and uniformity in states that may wish to form interstate Internet compacts."

The guidelines stress player protection, strict investigation of potential licensees, technology to check who and where a player is, and safeguards to keep out kids.

The group consulted with New Jersey casino regulators for its report, which includes many issues New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement has already had to deal with in launching online gambling. They include geolocation issues, and the use or prohibition of credit cards to fund online betting accounts. Both of those issues have caused New Jersey trouble in getting its Internet gambling industry off the ground since its late November launch.

The relative difficulty in using credit cards to fund Internet gambling accounts is widely seen as one of the reasons New Jersey's Internet gambling industry has not been as successful as many had hoped. Figures released earlier this week showed the state's online betting industry experienced its first revenue decline in April, falling to $11.4 million from $11.9 million in March.

Yet the report says, "As a matter of policy, legislation may seek to limit the use of credit cards, or access to credit for online wagering."

The recommendations also warn that online sports betting remains illegal (even though New Jersey is trying to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a nearly nationwide ban on it), and urges any multi-state compacts to create larger gambling pools to be structured so that they don't require Congressional approval first.

The council will discuss the recommendations at a meeting next month in San Diego.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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