Sunday May 5,2013 : INTERNET GAMBLING PROMPTS REVIVAL OF CONGRESSIONAL GAMING CONGRESS
Politicians recruiting colleagues to protect land gambling interests
Two US Congressmen are recruiting their political colleagues for a revived Congressional Gaming Caucus with a view to protecting the existing gambling industry's interests and promoting the benefit it brings to the American economy, reports the publication Delaware Online.
Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, and Joe Heck, a Republican from Nevada have teamed up on the project, which has been prompted by the move toward intrastate legalization of internet gambling and new land casino development in several states.
Claiming that the industry creates thousands of jobs and spends millions of dollars in local communities, the two politicians plan to hold a meeting in upcoming weeks “…to drum up more interest in membership,” said Greg Lemon, a spokesman for Heck. “We’re still in the recruiting phase and working on finding interested members.”
In April Thompson and Heck sent a letter to colleagues urging them to join the caucus. They noted that the industry created 820,000 jobs in 212 congressional districts in 2010.
Heck says it’s important to keep gambling issues at the “…forefront of the congressional conversation,” to “…advance responsible federal policies that will allow the gaming industry to continue to thrive as the national job-creating engine it is.”
More than half the members of Congress represent districts in states that have regulated legal gambling, said Holly Wetzel, a spokeswoman for the American Gaming Association, which supports the revival of the gaming caucus.
The House Administration Committee approved the caucus in March this year. It’s not clear what happened to the previous caucus.
With the movement in individual states to consider online gambling bills, caucus leaders say it’s important to be involved.
“It seems likes its expanding pretty rapidly,” Lemon said. “It’s an opportunity to bring members from states who have a renewed interest in gaming issues into the fold.”
State gambling groups welcome the attention.
“The timing is right,” said Wade Duty, executive director of the Louisiana Casino Association, which represents 17 commercial casinos in the state.
“As more states look at the concept of Internet-based gaming, most are hopeful that there will be some kind of federal uniform framework as the different states authorizes it.”