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.