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Casino lobby drops pro-Internet gambling advocacy; issue has sharply divided its members

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The casino industry's main lobbying group has quietly ended its efforts to legalize online gambling as its members stake starkly different positions on the matter.

American Gaming Association officials said Thursday that the group isn't focusing on the issue. President Geoff Freeman says AGA should work on areas that unite the industry.

It's a dramatic shift for the group that had made legalizing Internet gambling its most high-profile priority. Freeman told Congress in December that online gambling should be legal and regulated, saying a ban on the practice would strengthen the black market.

Online gambling has divided casino moguls. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson supports a federal ban, while MGM Resorts and Caesars back a pro-Internet gambling coalition.

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