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Commission on gambling ending work
Panel hashing details; report due out June 18

SAN FRANCISCO -- The commission studying gambling's impact on America is expected to recommend a moratorium on casino and lottery expansion.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission is meeting in San Francisco to finalize details of its report, which will be presented to Congress, the president, state governors and tribal leaders June 18. Wednesday and Thursday, they'll wrangle over final details as two years' work draws to a close.Several questions are still up for grabs. The commission has not reached a consensus on imposing federal tax on gambling proceeds, state tax on lottery tickets or a ban on state lottery advertising. And those issues are unlikely to get into the final report, according to commission staff.

The group makes recommendations but has no power of its own to set policies.

Some of the recommendations are basically decided, from establishing a national minimum age of 21 to make bets to banning all sports betting on college and amateur athletics, including in Oregon and Nevada, where sports betting is legal.

An earlier draft report indicates the panel will also recommend a rigorous background check and licensing process for anyone involved in managing or supplying state lotteries.

They are likely to suggest that states regulate gambling within their own boundaries, with the exception of tribal and Internet gambling, which would require some federal regulation.

The commission will apparently take one of its hardest stands against Internet gambling. Early recommendations, though subject to change, suggest that the federal government prohibit Internet gambling in the United States and make any credit card debts incurred gambling on the Internet "unrecoverable." It would further cramp the success of Internet gambling sites by prohibiting wire transfers to them or to the banks who represent them.

And it's expected to come down hard on "convenience gambling," like electronic devices in neighborhood businesses. Besides suggesting that states ban expansion of such gambling operations, the earlier draft report suggests that those that exist should be, at a minimum, "rolled back."

In the area of gambling and addiction, the panel will likely recommend that gambling venues refuse service to anyone who exhibits indications of a gambling disorder, much as tavern owners refuse to serve liquor to someone who has clearly had too much.

As for tribal gambling, the commission will recommend that federal laws be strengthened to "ensure adequate regulatory oversight and fiscal accountability." And it suggests that "Indian gambling should not be inconsistent with the state's overall gambling policy."

The panel noted in its May draft report, however, that "all relevant governmental gambling regulatory agencies should recognize the long-overdue economic development Indian gambling can generate." And it added that tribes should use some of the revenue from Indian gambling as seed money to diversify tribal economics and reduce dependence on gambling.

In several places, the commission states that gambling can offer economic benefit to depressed communities and recommends that be taken into account when establishing or relicensing venues.

All of the proposals now on the table are subject to change before the final release of the report, said commission chairwoman Kay James.