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Foxwoods delays controversial game

MASHUNTUCKET, Conn. - Foxwoods Resort Casino has agreed to delay the launch
of a new casino game with an Internet component while officials determine
whether the game meets state and federal gaming laws.

The Mashuntucket Pequot Tribe, Foxwoods' owner, shut down the "PlayAway"
game July 22 after the state's Division of Special Revenue, which oversees
gambling in the state, and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the
game was not reviewed or approved by the gaming compact between the state
and the tribe.

PlayAway allows gamblers to buy keno tickets at the casino then check an
Internet site to see if they have a winning number. The site also allows
customers to play a simulated slot machine or hand of blackjack or poker
for entertainment purposes only that doesn't involve winning or losing any
money.

Foxwoods officials argued it was not online gambling, but just another way
for customers to check their ticket numbers. Customers would have to return
to the casino to cash in their winning tickets.

Blumenthal said the game appeared to be online gambling, which is
prohibited by federal law.

The game was due to be officially launched on Aug. 2, but on July 29
Foxwoods officials voluntarily pushed back the start date to Aug. 15.

"We agreed that it would be unrealistic for either of us to perform a
meaningful and thorough review of the information, so we agreed to extend
our target start date to Aug. 15. The DSR asked us questions and we are
preparing responses. We will provide a lot of detailed information to the
state and the extra time is clearly needed. We are proceeding in a spirit
of cooperation firm in our belief that the game is legal," Bruce MacDonald,
the nation's spokesman, said on July 29.

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Blumenthal said his office will work closely with DSR to review the game's
legality.

"I am pleased that Foxwoods has agreed to postpone the PlayAway launch and
provide DSR with additional information and time," Blumenthal said. "This
game, as presented, appears to be illegal, on-line gambling that is off the
reservation. Foxwoods' own marketing touts the game as 'play anywhere,
anytime.' State and federal law prohibit gaming on the Internet and outside
the reservation, making PlayAway presumptively illegal," Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said he was "prepared to act, if necessary, to enforce state and
federal bans on Internet and off-reservation gambling."

George Henningsen, chairman of the tribe's gaming commission, conceded that
the Web site gave the impression that it was online gambling.

"It looks like you're playing. I know you're not, but I can't argue that it
looks like it," Henningsen said.

Adjustments may be made to the software to let people know they aren't
actually gambling and a button may be added to skip the graphics and go
directly to the keno numbers, Henningsen said.

The outcome of the PlayAway controversy is being watched around the
country. Members of the National Indian Gaming Association expect that if
PlayAway is successfully launched, other tribes around the country will be
interested in similar ventures.

The idea is to attract people back to the casino, Foxwoods officials said.