Online Gambling Dealt A Blow To State Expansion

Citing a contentious split among the major casino operators over the issue of expansion, the group representing the U.S. casino industry has dropped its support for legalizing online gaming.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with a setback for online gambling.

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INSKEEP: It's a multi-billion-dollar enterprise around the world. It's easy, addictive. You can do it anywhere. But Internet gambling is just getting started in the United States. It is only legal in a few states. Now the group representing the country's casino industry says it will no longer seek to expand online gambling here.

NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: In three states, it's legal to gamble online. The debate over expanding it to the rest of the country is a contentious one, especially between the country's casino giants. Take a listen to this ad, part of a big media campaign by the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Internet gambling will give criminals across the world a foothold in every American household.

CORLEY: The ads are bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands, who wants online gambling banned. But MGM Resorts, Caesars and other supporters of online gaming call that sort of claim unfair. That divide prompted the casino industry trade group, the American Gaming Association, to step away from the issue.

Jan Jones Blackhurst with Caesars Entertainment says that's no surprise. She says even though many casinos support expansion, Adelson wields lots of clout in the AGA.

JAN JONES BLACKHURST: And so, without consensus, the AGA board decided to just take no position.

CORLEY: Blackhurst says even though some push for a ban...

BLACKHURST: Online gaming exists in America today. The question is whether you're going to allow it to exist as a black market or you're going to regulate it.

CORLEY: The states where online gaming is already legal are New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News.

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