Attorney Generals Jump on the Adelson Anti-Online Gambling Train

Nevada Las Vegas Strip
Nevada AG jumps on the Wire Act train.
Last month, Attorney Generals in Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah drafted a letter urging President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to “help in restoring the Wire Act’s provisions”, aka The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). Dating back to 1961, the Wire Act is legislation that would make any online gambling illegal.

In a recent and interesting turn of events, the Attorney General of Nevada has joined the camp and voiced support for the law which has been heavily lobbied by Las Vegas billionaire and online gambling opponent, Sheldon Adelson.

This grates in contrast to the fact that Nevada legalized online poker in 2013. If Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s request was fulfilled, this could destroy the existing industry within the state. The move has not escaped intense criticism from both Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval, and Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman, A.G. Burnett.

Vice-President Elect Mike Pence has a been a long time opponent of online gambling by not only supporting RAWA efforts, but was also in favor of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. President Elect Donald Trump has owned casino’s himself and has not expressed any personal opposition to online gambling, but one of his major donors does happen to be the biggest proponent of RAWA – Sheldon Adelson.

The letter argues:

“The risk to our citizens is real and extensive. The ability for youth to access online gambling sites presents a significant risk to teens, a risk more easily mitigated at traditional brick and mortar gambling establishments. A study of Connecticut youth and gambling showed that 20.5% of adolescent gamblers reported gambling online.”

Interestingly enough, online gambling is not regulated in Connecticut. The stats also are not clear on how over three-quarters of the adolescents who are gambling are not succeeding in doing so at land-based casinos, yet the letter argues that the “traditional” form of gambling is somehow superior at suppressing adolescent gambling, using a study in a state where regulation does not even exist.

Perhaps the stats from the study referenced in this letter are more accurately a description of the phenomena that – regardless of the legal status of online gambling and online poker – there will always be a percentage of people who will still find a way to gamble online via unregulated, unscrupulous online gambling sites.

There is no word yet on if RAWA will be taken up by Congress, but time will tell under the new administration taking the reigns in 2017.

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