MAYOR BACKS AWAY FROM BETTING PLAN

Tuesday, October 31, 2000

By KEVIN FERGUSON
and JEFF SIMPSON
lasvegas.com/GAMING WIRE
 

   LAS VEGAS - Mayor Oscar Goodman said Tuesday afternoon he will 
remove himself from any deliberations or City Council votes to 
consider the fate of a proposed partnership between the city and an 
Internet gambling site, so long as entrepreneur Bob Stupak is 
involved.
   Goodman said through a statement that he learned earlier in the day 
that his law office had represented Stupak - "an apparent future 
investor in the Internet gaming venture" - in an unrelated May legal 
matter.
   The statement implied that Goodman learned of Stupak's involvement 
in vegasone.com after asking the project's lawyers at a Monday 
council meeting for the names of all of the company's officer, 
directors and shareholders.
   Goodman later checked with his law office to see if it had 
represented any of those persons, a move that revealed Stupak's name.
   "Upon learning of this and after consulting City Attorney Brad 
Jerbic, Goodman decided that his participation in the evaluation of 
the project may present an appearance of a conflict of interest," 
read the statement.
     Despite the statement, sources familiar with the evolution of the 
proposal said Goodman has been aware for months that Stupak is a 
player in the proposal, a claim countered by the entrepreneur's own 
denials.
   "I commend the mayor for his courage and his vision to take this 
project forward," Stupak said Tuesday night. "I have no financial 
investment and at this time I am not contemplating a financial 
investment. I wish the mayor and city council the best of luck on 
this worthy project."
   A frustrated Goodman spoke about the news in a Tuesday evening 
phone interview.
    "Over a stupid insignificant case, (Bob Stupak) retained my law 
firm's services in May," he said.
    Goodman said he is scheduled to meet with Stupak this morning to 
determine his involvement in the venture.
    "If he says he doesn't intend to be involved, then I will go 
forward like a speeding bullet," Goodman said. "I really want this 
project to go forward."
    When Goodman was asked if he would request that Stupak  step aside 
he said: "I can't do that. That would be out of line. But I hope he 
would voluntarily step aside."
    Stupak offered a brief reply.
   "You can't step aside until you step in," he said.

    Tony Cabot, a lawyer for the proposed e-casino has said that 
vegasone.com could generate $360 million a year, with $90 million 
going to the city of Las Vegas.
   The city's seal, its official name and a municipally appointed 
regulatory body would give the site a competitive advantage against 
the estimated 1,000 competing Web sites that target wary online 
gamblers.
    State and federal laws prohibit Internet betting from within U.S. 
borders. As a result, organizers of the vegasone.com venture have 
said they would place the site's Web server overseas while erecting 
barriers to prevent betting from within the United States.
    Representatives of vegasone.com are scheduled to appear before the 
City Council at 9 a.m. today to say whether they're willing to 
undertake a 90-day trial period for the betting site, a proposal 
Goodman asked the group to consider Monday.
   Las Vegas lawyer James Jimmerson, a vegasone.com board member, said 
Tuesday he was uncertain whether his board colleagues would support 
the test run.
   Hours before his surprising announcement, Goodman said the money 
generated from the online gambling partnership could revolutionize 
the way the city does business.
    "The first year we can write each citizen a check for $150," he 
said. "The second year we can build better parks, and the third year 
we can take care of the poor."
    The Las Vegas mayor has been a key player in the proposal that 
depending upon the source of information has numerous authors, 
including Goodman, Stupak, local lawyers James Jimmerson and Tony 
Cabot, or any one of the longtime casino executives who sit on the 
board of vegasone.com.
   Goodman has said that representatives of the venture, which 
includes former MGM Grand boss Larry Woolf and Caesars Palace boss 
Dan Reichartz, approached him months ago with the plan.
   Without Goodman's involvement, the project could be in serious 
trouble, said one city hall source.
   "That means another council member is going to have to pick up the 
ball and run with it," the source said. "There are some political 
hurdles involved here, and it'll take somebody who is willing to take 
the political risks."
   A second city hall source said Goodman may be backing away from the 
proposal he wants consensus on the council.
   "He doesn't want 4-3 votes," the source said. "He senses that there 
will be opposition."
   Councilwoman Lynette Boggs McDonald said numerous issues envelope 
the proposal.
   "The issues that I've always had with the proposal are the security 
issues," she said. "Can children be kept from betting and whether the 
city should put the proposal up for competitive bid? Those issues 
remain."
 

-- 
Dave Berns
Editor/Writer
lasvegas.com Gaming Wire
Direct: 702-380-4543
Fax: 702-383-4676

Website: http://www.lasvegas.com/gamingwire/
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