Florida Gambling Hall Raided By Hillsborough Sheriff Department

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In Florida, only on Indian reservations and in pari mutuels in South Florida is there allowed to be any form of slot machine gambling. That fact landed the owner of a Tampa gambling parlor in jail after he was charged with keeping a gambling house.

John Zilba, the owner of Action Gaming on North Florida Avenue was arrested after police claim that he was running an illegal slot machine parlor.

The arrest was made after Zilba apparently went to the sheriff’s office earlier in the year to find out if the shop he was opening was legal.

Police say that he was told that it was illegal to open the parlor, but, Zilba went ahead with his plans and opened Action Gaming in June.

A customer tipped off police to the parlor after she felt she was being ripped off at the establishment. She claimed that when she arrived at the points necessary for a payout, someone would step in and clear the machine out.

Police found USB ports hooked up to the 100 slot machines that they seized. The ports indicate that the owner could have been programming the slots from a different location to alter the payouts.

The machines that were seized were valued at $800 each. Players who played frequently did not think the hall was illegal due to the fact that they never won money, only gift cards.

Police say, however, that because the gift cards had a monetary value, that would be enough to make the operation illegal.

First National Bank Loses Appeal of Illegal Lottery Competition

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First National Bank thought they were running a legitimate competition in which people could have the chance to win a million dollars by putting money into an account for thirty two days.

The competition had people putting one hundred dollars into a thirty two day notice account. With the money in the account, people had the chance to win one million dollars.

A Pretoria High Court order ruled that the competition was against the law, and that it constituted illegal wagering. The bank does not believe what they were doing was illegal.

The bank feels that since the money could have been withdrawn from the account in full after the thirty two days, that there was no risk of losing money. That, they claim, did not constitute gambling.

The court, however, saw things differently. They claim that the competition is prohibited under the Lotteries Act. The bank appealed the ruling.

The Supreme Court of appeals ruled on Friday in favor of the High Court, and did not accept the argument from First National. The appeal was then dismissed.


Online Gambling Ban Regs Get Ripped Apart at House Hearing

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Closing the first part of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology Hearing on the proposed regs for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Head of the Sub-Committee, advised Ms. Louise Roseman from the Federal Reserve Bank, and Ms. Valerie Abend from the Department of Treasury, to tread very carefully in proceeding with instituting the proposed regulations. He remarked how there was more heated discussion, debate, and criticism of this topic than on any other his committee has seen in the year he has resided over the sub-committee, “So be careful,” he said.

The main area of concern from the two witnesses was the ambiguity of the UIGEA, which makes it nearly impossible to determine what illegal online gambling actually is as defined by the 2006 law.

Ms. Roseman pointed out that one company who processes illegal Internet gambling transactions may also transact legitimate transfers which should not be blocked, thus making it almost impossible, or at least very difficult, to determine how to block illegal online gambling transactions.

Rep. Barney Frank, Head of the Financial Services Committee, also posed questions to Ms. Roseman that she could not give exact replies to. Ms. Roseman and Ms. Abend both were eager to point out how they are trying hard to comply with the law, but both were stumped on many questions as to how the banks could enforce it.

The one supporter of the proposed regs, Rep. Bachas, supplied a list of 45 State Attorneys General who opposed federal laws that overruled state laws. Rep. Frank pointed out that in his new law, the Internet Gambling Enforcement and Regulation Act, there is a stipulation that allows individual states to opt out of allowing Internet gambling, thus appeasing the Attorneys General concerns.

Also of great concern to at the members at the Hearing was the issue that the law was passed for moral reasons, yet it allowed for gambling via the Internet on horses. Rep. Frank pointed out to the committee, that betting on horses is also gambling, so it too should be considered immoral and thus banned.

For analysis and reports on the second panel portion of the Hearing, stay tuned to Casino Gambling Web. The second panel discussions will begin shortly and end later in the day.

Expanded Gambling In Florida Receives High Marks From Economists

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The state of Florida already has casino gambling. What lawmakers in the House and Senate are trying to do is figure out how much the gambling should be expanded in the state. There are varying opinions on this matter.

On Monday, top economists in the state gave their opinion on the amount of money that could be generated under both a House Bill and a Senate Bill that are being proposed. The figures for both Bills was in the hundreds of millions.

The Senate Bill being proposed would bring full scale casino gambling to Seminole casinos in Florida. Under the plan, pari-mutuels would also get blackjack. The Seminoles would be able to offer blackjack, baccarat, craps, and roulette.

The House plan does not go to the extent of the plan in the Senate. Under the House plan, the Seminoles would be allowed to keep Vegas style slots, but would have to stop offering blackjack and baccarat.

The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference concluded that the Senate plan would bring $504 million in revenue to the state in the first year. The House plan would bring the state $257.2 million in the first year.

Whichever plan becomes law, and it could be a combination of both plans, the state would benefit greatly from expanding casino gambling, according to the economists.


Gambling Issue Takes Center Stage In Texas Legislature Wednesday

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All of the Bills that are being considered in the Texas Legislature were put on the table on Wednesday for people to debate. There were both proponents and opponents of casino gambling present and many testified to what casino resorts would mean for the state.

“We oppose the expansion of gambling because it’s really a predatory business practice,” said Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas member Stephen Reeves.

There were many in attendance that felt the same as Reeves, but the other side of the argument was also well represented. Sheldon Adelson, Chief Executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., knows a thing or two about casino resorts. and he believes Texas would be a great location for major casinos.

Others looked at it from a strictly financial point of view, and they concluded that in these tough times, casino resorts could be highly beneficial to Texas.

“Texas is going to need money now and in the future, and this is just one way to keep money that’s leaving the state right now,” said Alabama-Coushatta Tribe member Carlos Bullock.

Several of the plans that are being proposed would allow for resorts with convention space. This, some lawmakers believe, would help lure bigger business conventions to the area and help improve the economy.

EU-US Online Gambling Deal Struck, Gambling Industry Dismayed

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On Monday, the European Commission agreed to a deal with the United States over claims the U.S. has prevented EU firms from competing in the online gambling sector.

A report out of Brussels today says that the EU has agreed to an expansion in other sectors of trade to compensate for the withdrawal of commitments of the GATS on cross-border trade in the gambling sector.

European country members will now be allowed to trade in the U.S. postal, courier, research and development areas, as well as storage and warehouse sectors. The U.S. has also made concessions in the testing and analysis sectors.

Although both sides in the dispute have signed agreements, the Commission said that it would continue to press the U.S. for a non-discriminatory policy towards Internet gambling.

Publicly traded Internet gambling companies such as Party Gaming and BWIN had hoped the EU would have fought harder to restore their ability to operate in the world’s largest market instead of coming to this type of agreement.

The deal will provide for a better competition on the mail delivery systems provided by companies such as the German firm DHL. The overall valuation of the trade package is believed to be much lower than the expected $100 billion claims that have been talked about.

Peter Power, spokesman for the EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said, “While the U.S. is free to decide how to best respond to legitimate public policy concerns regarding Internet gambling, discrimination against EU or other foreign companies should be avoided.”

A decision by the WTO on compensation to the country of Antigua & Barbuda is expected to be released sometime this week. Antigua is seeking $3.44 billion in trade sanctions that would include withdrawal of its commitments to protect Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents of American companies.

European Union Drops Legal Case Against Austria

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The European Union has been busy at work lately trying to make member countries come into compliance with trade agreements having to do with gambling. Whether it is online or land based gambling, there are violations taking place all across the world.

Austria had been the subject of a legal case from the EU. They, however, have now come into compliance and the legal case has been dropped. The case involved discrimination in Austria law that gave legal protection to only members of their country.

“The European Commission decided to close the infringement case…after reform of the Austrian law on gaming which extended protection for players to all citizens of the EU,” the Commission said, according to a report in Reuters.

Austria is just the latest of the countries that have been dealing with gambling issues relating to the European Union. France has recently began the process of coming into compliance, and so has Spain.

The US remains a top target of the EU because of their Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which was placed into law in 2006. The EU has completed an investigation into the UIGEA and has given the US a grace period to come into compliance.

If their concerns are not adhered to, the EU would then recommend that the World Trade Organization take action against the US. That may not be necessary, however, with Representative Barney Frank leading a crusade to overturn the UIGEA.