Worried about the potential for terrorist financing, federal cabinet has examined wide-ranging legislation to ban foreign internet gambling and ordered further work before it makes a final decision, which may be next week.

Government sources said cabinet was looking at options including total prohibition, stiff industry regulations, or leaving policing to the states.

At this stage, cabinet appears to be disposed towards taking strong action against internet gambling, fearing it could be used by terrorists and criminals to launder money.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has also come under pressure from the churches to ensure that children are not exposed to 24-hour internet gambling through foreign betting exchanges.

Coast casinos continue winning streak into May

Coast casinos continued their winning streak into May, posting more than $100 million in revenues for the fifth straight month.

The 12 casinos on the Coast brought in $108.4 during May, which had five weekends. That is a 10.5 percent increase over May 2003.

Greg Bradley, vice president of research for Decision Scientific, a casino consulting and research firm, said the increase in revenues shows that Coast resorts have gotten better at attracting customers who gamble, as opposed to the people who show up to eat or watch a show. The improving economy also is a factor in bringing more people to come to the Coast.

Hilton owner plans changes

The new owners of the Las Vegas Hilton say it “desperately needs nourishment” to improve its performance.

Thomas Barrack Jr., founder and chief executive of Colony Capital LLC, told the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday the Hilton was a “fantastic project” and “we have to make the operation a success.”

The commission approved the $280 million purchase from Caesars Entertainment Inc. On the heels of that approval, Caesars Entertainment early today said it has completed the previously announced sale.

Caesars said it expects to report an after-tax gain of $85 million this quarter on the sale and will use the proceeds of the sale — estimated at $265 million after taxes — to reduce debt.

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