Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Panel Seeks `Pause' on Spread of Gambling Machines

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Panel Seeks `Pause' on Spread of Gambling Machines

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sharply divided, a panel studying gambling in America voted Wednesday to recommend a moratorium on the spread of casinos, lotteries and slot machines around the nation.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission cannot impose a moratorium, but its report will call for "a pause" in the growth of legalized gambling and encourage state and local governments to form their own gambling study commissions.

"Some policy-makers at all levels may want to impose an explicit moratorium on gambling expansion while awaiting further research and assessment," reads language adopted by the commission, which has until June 18 to submit its report to Congress, the White House, governors and Indian reservations. The nine-member panel split over the language, particularly the use of the word "moratorium." Five commissioners approved the wording, while four voted no. At least one pro-gambling commission member, MGM Grand Chairman J. Terrence Lanni, now plans to write a minority report. "I have a problem with the notion that we're going to stop the world or pause or create a moratorium" just to wait for more research, said commissioner Robert Loescher, an Alaska businessman and native American. Commissioner John Wilhelm, who represents casino workers as general president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, said commissioners who support gambling endorse efforts to address its social costs, but the panel's gambling opponents "don't give a damn" about jobs. Regarding the language encouraging a moratorium, Wilhelm proposed an additional sentence encouraging an expansion of gambling in "economically depressed communities for which the economic benefits of gaming are most clear." The commission defeated that language, leaving Wilhelm to warn that the report is becoming "one-sided." "Our record is that in many kinds of communities in this country, including in particularly economically depressed communities -- urban and rural, as well as Indian reservations -- that there is a net positive economic impact" from casinos, Wilhelm said. …

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