Conference Testifies Before National Gambling Commission; Mayor Griffin Secures Commitment for Release of Draft Report
By Ed Somers
Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin, Chair of the Conference's Gaming Task Force, testified before the National Gambling Impact Study Commission on February 8.
The Gaming Task Force met during the recent Winter Meeting and expressed serious concern regarding the activities of the Commission, which was created by the 104th Congress and has been meeting since June of 1997.
Griffin testified that while the Commission has previously heard important testimony from mayors who represent gaming cities regarding the economic benefits of casino gaming, "we are not here today as a cheerleader for the gaming industry." Rather, Griffin reflected on mayoral concern that the Commission's recommendations, due in June of 1999, be used to support federal involvement in this state and local matter.
Mayor Griffin said, "as mayors of America's cities, it is our primary goal to communicate to you and future panels that casino gaming is, in fact, a state and local issue," with the exception of Indian gaming, which is uniquely a federal issue with significant implications for state and local governments.
One of the focuses of the Commission's work has been on the social consequences of gaming, including crime and compulsive behavior. In this effort, Mayor Griffin urged the Commission to consult closely with the Conference and national police organizations. The Gaming Task Force resolved in its recent meeting to focus on this important area of study with assistance from the nation's police chiefs.
Mayor Griffin stressed that, "...despite your efforts to solicit public comment, there is a nagging perception that this commission has not sufficiently reached out across this country for broad based public input on this important subject," and called on the Commission to make available a draft report for comment prior to the release of the final report.
The Commission, chaired by Ms. Kay Coles James, agreed with the request and said that it would make a draft report available for review and comment.