Gambling still controversial

3/28/2001 (By JEFF SIMPSON, lasvegas.com GAMING WIRE) Don’t be fooled by the rapid spread of legalized gambling in the United States during the past 25 years, a Nevada Gaming Control Board member observed Monday.

Despite its increasing acceptance, the casino industry remains controversial, and is viewed with suspicion by an increasingly jaded public, Scott Scherer told a group of leading gaming regulators assembled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“And that suspicion can ripen into disdain and even rejection if the industry is not well-regulated,” Scherer warned.

The fourth-annual International Gaming Regulator Conference heard the newest member of the control board, which serves as the policeman and tax collector for Nevada’s casino industry, explain his perspective on the past, present and future of gaming regulation.

Scherer told regulators that the expansion of gambling in the United States has been dramatic.

For example, while New Hampshire began the first modern state lottery in 1963; the country now has 37 lotteries.

Nevada was the only state with legal casinos before 1976; 26 states now have some type of casino gaming.

But the expansion isn’t necessarily permanent, Scherer warned.

Gambling is still widely viewed as a vice, he noted, and the public still remembers the corrupt influence organized crime had over the casino industry before the current regulatory era.

And the public could reverse the expansion of gambling if it’s not confident in the integrity of the business, he said.

One of the most important threats to public confidence in the casino business may involve the payment of winners, he said, citing a 19th-century backlash after several lotteries failed to pay promised prizes to winners.

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