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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Gambling policies

That policy seemed to pay off at first as some of the world's largest gambling operations, including MGM Mirage, purchased expensive licenses to operate there. But business did not become as brisk as expected, and six major casinos, including MGM, have relocated or closed their Internet operations altogether.

In December, the island's Council of Ministers, roughly equivalent to a cabinet, voted to reverse the policy against accepting bets from the United States. Tim Craine, the head of electronic business for the Isle of Man, said officials felt that the change would help attract new casinos--and the licensing and tax revenue they provide.

"There's a lot of business looking to relocate to a reputable, regulated jurisdiction," he said, noting that there were many online poker sites looking for a new jurisdiction. "We're hoping to capitalize on that business" by changing our policy, he said.

Craine also said that the policy change affected bets only on casino games and poker. The island still bars casinos from accepting sports bets placed from the United States. He said it made that distinction on the basis that United States law prohibited sports betting online, but not casino wagering.

Federal prosecutors have said they believe that casino games are also prohibited under American law. And numerous state laws expressly prohibit gambling, even that conducted on the Web, if the activity is not expressly authorized.