Justice Department Softens Opposition To Gaming Bill

The U.S. Justice Department has eased its opposition to a bill in Congress that would ban gaming on foreign-flag cruises to nowhere and, for the first time, permit casinos on U.S.-flag cruise ships.

Introduced by Representative Gene Taylor of Mississippi, the bill would annul the U.S. Gambling Ship Act which prevents U.S. citizens and residents from owning, operating or holding an interest in a gambling ship unless the vessel operates solely in U.S. waters.

The U.S. Gambling Devices Act which prohibits the transport of gaming devices in U.S. interstate or foreign commerce would also be annulled. Capt. Warren Leback, MarAd administrator, provided support to the bill, stating that it is possible that revenues from onboard gambling could generate new investment in the U.S.-flag cruising and passenger transport markets.

James Henry, Transportation Institute president, added that the Gambling Ship Act must be repealed if there is to be any substantial investment in U.S.-flag assets. Mr.

Taylor insisted that if a foreignbuilt, foreign-flagged and foreigncrewed vessel can attract passengers in Florida, California, or Washington for a voyage on the high seas and offer those passengers casino and electronic gaming as entertainment, then a U.S.-built and flagged vessel with an American crew should be allowed to offer the same.

Charles Liberis, Europa Cruises Corporation president, asked that the bill be amended to allow U.S.- built but foreign-flagged ships five years in which to dispose of the overseas- built vessels and replace them with U.S.-built ships or to flag out existing tonnage to the U.S. register.

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