WASHINGTON (AP) _ A sharply divided panel studying gambling in America today recommended a nationwide moratorium on the spread of casinos, lotteries and slot machines.

The commission's report will contain a call for ``a pause'' in the spread of legalized gambling and encourage state and local governments to form their own gambling study commissions.

``Some policy-makers at all levels may want to impose an explicit moratorium on gambling expansion while awaiting further research and assessment,'' the National Gambling Impact Study Commission concluded.

The nine-member panel split over the language, particularly the use of the word ``moratorium.'' Five commissioners approved the wording, while four voted no. At least one pro-gambling commission member, MGM Grand Inc. chairman J. Terrence Lanni, said he now plans to write a minority report.