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Casinos Second act for the Catskills

The Catskills may be about to change their image from mambo lessons and stand-up comics to blackjack and croupiers.

Plans to bring casino gambling to this faded resort area took a big step forward last week, raising hopes that the Catskills are finally on the verge of recapturing some of the excitement of their “Borscht Belt” past.

“Now that gambling will come, all this will be revived,” Elaine Streisfeld said from behind the counter of her antiques and bric-a-brac shop. “Big money will be coming to the county.”

The state legislature has authorized Gov. George Pataki to negotiate compacts with Indian tribes for up to three casinos around the Catskill Mountains’ Sullivan and Ulster counties, and another three in the Buffalo area.

Lawmakers had long resisted adding more Indian casinos to the two operating in New York, but that opposition dissolved in light of the state’s financial woes following the September 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.

A number of hurdles remain, and it could be about three years before any cards are ever cut. But the hope is that casinos will bring back the flush days after World War II, when big hotels and bungalows attracted thousands of visitors each summer, largely Jewish families who drove a few hours north from New York City to escape the heat.

Kids swam in the lakes. Adults took in shows by crooners and comedians. Guests stuffed themselves on all-you-can-eat dining, which often included borscht, the cold beet soup that gave the region its nickname.

“I couldn’t keep the customers out of my shop at 11 p.m.!” Streisfeld recalled. “I’d lock the door to keep them out so I could go home.”…

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Another Casino Invests in The Net

An anonymous land-based casino is utilising the skills of Boss Media to develop an Internet casino. The unnamed casino will become another name in the long list of land based companies who are opening gaming sites online when they finally reveal themselves.

The online casino is due to be opened in Autumn of this year and will be “designed to appeal to international players of many jurisdictions and cultures.”

“We are very pleased to announce this new contract in the market. We know that our new customer will penetrate new markets,” said Johan Sigvardsson, CEO and President of Boss Media. “Our new licensee has a lot of experience to bring to the online gaming market.”…

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Analysts Cyber Casinos Alluring for Nevada

There won’t be any buffets and showgirls in cyber casinos. Nevertheless, gambling analysts predicted Wednesday that if Nevada casinos set up shop on the Web, they’ll not only draw players to the sites, but more visitors than ever will want to come to the old-fashioned ones, too.

“Internet gaming tends to be a very profitable business,” Marc Falcone, analyst for Bear Stearns, told the state gaming commission. “We think this is a big opportunity.”

Because of a recent bill approved by state lawmakers, the commission is trying to develop rules to let Nevada casino operators set up Web-based gambling sites.

Estimated revenues from Internet gambling reached $1.5 billion last year, but that’s a tiny amount compared to its potential. Sebastian Sinclair, gambling analyst for Christiansen Capital Advisors, estimated revenues could reach $10 billion by 2005.

Nevada obviously doesn’t want to be left out of that, but the legality of Internet gambling is holding casinos back.

The U.S. Justice Department has considered Internet gambling to be illegal from within the United States because of a 40-year-old federal law banning betting on the telephone.

Despite that, Nevada lawmakers believe the legalization of online betting is inevitable, especially if federal restrictions are changed by pending court challenges, including one in Louisiana.

But what would cyber casinos do to Nevada’s economy? Outgoing commission Chairman Brian Sandoval wanted to know if the Web would cannibalize land casinos.

Falcone was adamant that Web casinos would only help Nevada, much like book stores or clothing stores who sell both in brick-and-mortar locations and on the Web.…

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