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Despite opposition, casinos test Net gaming

2/14/2001 (By JOE WEINERT, PressPlus) ATLANTIC CITY – Days after the Casino Association of New Jersey announced its opposition to an Internet gambling bill, the Trump casinos were secretly checking out a similar form of at-home gambling.

Home Gambling Network Inc. of Las Vegas held a private demonstration of its “live remote wagering” system Wednesday afternoon at Trump Taj Mahal.

The small audience included Mark Brown, chief operating officer of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc., other “enthusiastic” Trump executives, Assemblymen Kenneth LeFevre, R-2nd, and Nicholas Asselta, R-1st, and gaming lawyer Lloyd Levenson, according to people familiar with the meeting.

The Home Gambling Network is not an Internet casino, but “a close cousin” to online gambling, according to a casino executive familiar with the system. Players using the Home Gambling Network would wager on a casino’s actual live table games through telephones, the Internet or other devices. They can view a live image of the action and bet against other gamblers.

Wagering is done through an instant bank-to-bank electronic transfer.

No bets were placed during Wednesday’s demonstration, said one person familiar with the meeting.

According to company literature, Home Gambling Network licenses its system only to legal gambling operations. It lists no licensees on its Web site.

Neither the Division of Gaming Enforcement nor the Casino Control Commission was aware of the Taj demonstration, spokespersons for those agencies said.

Neither a Home Gambling Network spokesman, Brown, Asselta nor Levenson returned phone calls seeking comment.

LeFevre did confirm his presence at the meeting, and said he liked what he saw.

“If you were to walk through the casinos today, half of their tables are not being used. This would allow tables not being utilized to be used for the (home gambling) system, so obviously there would be greater revenue,” LeFevre said.

“At first blush, it does look interesting. I’m trying to find something that might be wrong about it,” he said.

Mel Molnick, president of Home Gambling Network, and Chris Almida, president of the firm’s parent company,, led the Taj presentation.

“We are excited at the opportunity to demonstrate HGN’s concept of remote wagering on live games-events with electronic transactions to a major U.S. gaming jurisdiction that is considering the legalization of remote wagering,” Molnick said in a prepared statement.

The local casino industry, however, has formally opposed the Internet gambling bill introduced last month by two assemblymen.

“It is our belief that under no circumstances could such gaming be properly regulated,” casino association President Timothy Wilmott said in a Jan. 29 letter to Anthony Impreveduto, D-Hudson, and Neil Cohen, D-Union.

Their bill would permit Atlantic City casinos to operate Internet gambling sites that would be regulated by the casino commission.

Although the bill would regulate access by underage and compulsive gamblers, “we believe that the very nature of Internet gaming would confound every effort that might be made by casinos to abide by such regulations,” Wilmott wrote.

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