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Interview with Anthony Cabot, online casino law pioneer

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We present an interview with Anthony Cabot, presumably the world’s most knowledgeable and recognized lawyer within the online gaming industry. Cabot has written and edited books on gambling law both about online and ordinary land-based gambling. Cabot’s Internet Gambling Report II, is acknowledged as a bible for those interested in online gambling law. He is also the author of the "CasinoLaw" resource, where professionals and players can find the latest information on gaming law.

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This is a reprint of the interview.

Can you tell us about your background?

"I devote almost full time to gaming law and have over the years written or edited seven books on gambling law." I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Being completely broke after graduating from high school, I stayed in town and worked my way through school. The severe winter of '78, however, sent me westward. I graduated from Arizona State College of Law in 1981 and headed to Las Vegas after receiving an offer from the state's largest law firm. By chance, I began working with the firm's gaming attorneys, including former Governor Grant Sawyer and Bob Faiss. It seemed to have worked out, as I have been with Lionel Sawyer & Collins for 17 years. I devote almost full time to gaming law and have over the years written or edited seven books on gambling law.

Do you think that online gambling will be prohibited in the US?

Yes, but the extent of the exceptions is the more important question. Probably by the end of 1999. The prohibition has various centers of support. The religious right opposes any form of gambling. The sports leagues oppose any form of sports wagering. Some state governments fear both the loss of control over gambling and the loss of revenues. Some argue that in-home gambling presents the greatest potential to create problem gamblers. I have been most impressed with the lobbying strength of the horse racing industry. I assume that it will continue to win favor in Washington and will be granted a broad exception. The lottery industry also will gain some ability to conduct online gambling. I don't see broad exceptions for any other group. Fantasy leagues will probably be excepted from the prohibition.

What consequences do you think prohibition will have on the online gambling industry in general?

Because a large portion if Internet users are from the United States, operators will have two options. The first is to not accept US patrons. This will avoid legal issues, but eliminate a large market. The second is to accept US patrons. Non-US owned or operated sites may avoid legal problems by staying outside the US. Still, the US efforts may impact them if the US government can frustrate their efforts to stay online through US ISPs, to advertise in the US, or to conduct online financial transactions.

What would prohibition mean to the social online player in the US?

"I anticipate the US prohibition will make it illegal for a US citizen to gamble online." I anticipate the US prohibition will make it illegal for a US citizen to gamble online. If so, I do not see active prosecution of cases against social players. But, do not be surprised if the government sets up their own gambling site as a sting operation and arrests a few players to make a point.

Will any law governing gambling behavior on the Internet be enforceable?

Governments will need to figure out their respective rights and responsibilities in Cyberspace. This will mandate international cooperation, but I don't see this occurring for several years. And a few personal questions.

Why do you have a special interest in the online gaming industry?

PAl Alcorn, one of the founders of Silicon Gaming, came to my offices several years ago. He noticed my computer tool kit that I was using to fix my connection to our newly installed LAN and said that he knew they found the right attorney. He called me a nerd in lawyer's clothing. I took that as a compliment. Since I saw the big mainframe at the IBM offices in downtown Cleveland when I was in 8th grade, I have been fascinated by computers. I goofed around with Basic programming in college, but my career took a legal direction. The technological revolution has given me an opportunity to merge my interest in computers with my chosen career as a gaming attorney, not only involving Internet issues, but also representing several high-tech gaming companies. Tell us a little bit about your site, CasinoLaw. "Everyone should have their little piece of the Internet." Everyone should have their little piece of the Internet. CasinoLaw is mine. The great value of the Internet is to allow information to be shared so that the people can build off the knowledge of others and help others build off their advancements. With this in mind, I conceived CasinoLaw as being a content-based site that would become the world repository for all information on gambling, public policy, and law. A person visiting the site can read summaries of the gambling laws in various jurisdictions, read the actual laws and regulations, access scholarly articles, or engage in discussions in the forum. This requires a cooperative effort of those studying and practicing law in the various jurisdictions and specialties to contribute. Dr. David Ross Barrow-Britton, the webmaster, and I have been soliciting contributors, adding content, and revising the site. I am proud of where it is at, but realize it is far from done.

How has your book, Internet Gambling Report II, been received?

Very well. As with all of my books, I attempted to give a fair and accurate overview of Internet gambling. This included both the bad and the good. I think most people who have read it appreciated this approach.

Do you have any other comments you wish to add?

An important thing to remember about Internet gambling is that the debate goes far beyond policy issues over in-home gambling. It is the force driving the larger debates over personal freedoms and government control over a communication medium that is catalyst in the Informational Revolution. We are merely passengers on that train. Previous Guests:

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