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National Conference of State Legislatures Opposes Federal Web Poker Ban

Organization Pens Letter To Top Lawmakers On Capitol Hill

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Last week, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) issued a letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives warning against Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s Restoration of the Wire Act legislation.

The proposal would essentially ban all forms of online gaming.

Right now, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have operational online gaming industries.

The NCSL has joined other organizations such as the Fraternal Order of Police and North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, in opposition to the proposed ban. While both Graham and Chaffetz have the bill, the driving force behind the efforts is billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who doesn’t want gambling to be on the Internet. He said it would cut into the brick-and-mortar side of things and harm minors.

Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. is the richest casino developer in the world.

The NCSL letter by Oregon State Senator Bruce Starr, President of NCSL, and Nevada State Senator Debbie Smith, NCSL President-Elect was sent to Capitol Hill.

Dear Senators Reid and McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi:

On behalf of (NCSL), we write to express our strong opposition to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, and urge you to respect the sovereignty of states to decide whether or not to allow gambling, and in particular online gambling.

Since its inception, NCSL has resisted unwarranted preemptions of state laws and federal legislation that threatens state authority and autonomy – especially in areas of successfully demonstrated state stewardship like gambling. States have proven that they are effective regulators of the gambling industry and the proponents of this legislation fail to make a case that we have been negligent in our responsibilities to the industry and consumers. This attempt to enact a wholesale prohibition of online gambling with the Restoration of America’s Wire Act is merely a solution seeking a problem.

Since the 2011 Department of Justice opinion clarifying the scope of the Wire Act, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands have legalized some form of online gambling within their state, while Utah and Maine have acted to forbid such activity. Many more states are considering bills that would authorize, expand or restrict Internet gambling as well. This is the way it should work, each state making the decision that is best suited to the desires of its residents and not through a congressional mandate.