The verdict is that online gambling's future in the United States is still uncertain

Dennis Neilander, the chairman of the Nevada state Gaming Control Board, has nixed the current prospects for legalising online gambling by telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that without clarification from the courts or Congress he believes Nevada is precluded from adding Internet gambling to the many games it regulates.

Addressing the Committee this week, Neilander said the future of Internet gambling remains "very much up in the air." Referring from the outgoing Bush administration's Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act regulations pushed through just before the change of presidential power, Neilander noted that the definition of "unlawful Internet gambling" is still in question.

He noted that Congressman Barney Frank, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee had opposed the UIGEA regulations and proposed the scrapping of the law, and that American banks and other financial institutions have complained they were being forced into a law enforcement role when Congress couldn't even define what conduct it was trying to prevent.

The 2006 law sought to curb online gambling by prohibiting financial institutions from accepting payments from credit cards, checks or electronic fund transfers to settle online wagers, Associated Press reports.

Neilander commented that Representative Shelley Berkley, a Democrat from Nevada, has proposed a comprehensive study of the issue, remarking that the Bush administration embarked on a "prohibitionist crusade against Internet gaming" that led to the flawed rules being issued "at the very last minute."

Addressing the question of private gambling salons in Nevada, the Gaming Control Board executive said that these became "as popular as we might have hoped" following their approval by lawmakers in 2001. The private salons were designed to expand on inducements used by Nevada casinos for years, such as luxury suites, free entertainment and meals, shopping sprees and access to private jets.

Neilander said some high-stakes gamblers prefer the salons, but others like the action on the casino floor where they're shoulder-to-shoulder with other bettors.

While there were early concerns about the private salons because they departed from a long-standing law that all gambling be open to the public, Neilander added, "I frankly don't think the general public even cares at this point."

Rules for the salons were recently changed at the request of the resort industry so that the clubs can set their own minimum bets on live games. The minimum bet had been $500. Also, the minimum bankroll that a privacy-seeking high roller has to show was cut from $500 000 in cash to $300 000.

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