With the swearing in of new President Donald Trump still over a month away, politicians and lawyers are already jockeying for position in the fight for gambling online. Just this past month on November 17, ten Republican Attorneys General signed a letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence asking him to work toward the restoration of the Interstate Wire Act (IWA). Restoring the IWA could lead to the prohibition of gambling online and online poker.
Quoting from that letter, the AG’s said, “The Obama administration overruled 50 years of practice and precedent when a Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel opinion claimed the Wire Act only applied to sports betting and not to other types of online gambling. The Wire Act undermined state online gambling prohibitions. Without a federal prohibition, (DOJ) opened the door to expansive internet gambling and exposed states to the significant negative impacts that often accompany online gambling.”
The letter from the AGs didn’t specifically cite gambling online, but rather gambling in particular, as a gateway to domestic violence, divorce, suicide and child abuse.
Nevada Representative Dina Titus has also sent a letter to VP-elect Mike Pence and the presidential transition team on Dec. 6. She noted that the letter from the ten attorneys general “contains several inaccuracies and unfair allegations,” and asked that, “As you continue your work on the presidential transition, I encourage you to carefully study this issue before making any decisions that would infringe on states’ rights or eliminate jobs in the online gaming industry.”
Saying that the AG’s letter contained inaccuracies, Titus continued, “For example, the letter cites a study of youth in Connecticut and their online gaming habits. Unfortunately, the letter fails to note that online gaming is not legal in Connecticut, so any adolescent online gaming would be done by utilizing offshore or illegal internet sites. In Nevada, where there are effective controls in place to verify age and location, there has not been a single reported instance of minors playing poker online.” She also mentioned that the AGs’ letter did not distinguish between illegal operations and legal gambling online.
Online poker has been legal in Nevada since April 2013. Governor Brian Sandoval approved interstate play and was instrumental in signing a compact with the state of Delaware. This provided a greater pool of poker players by allowing players from both states to play against each other. Even though online poker has become a regulatory success for the state, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt was one of the ten AGs who signed the letter to VP-elect Pence, drawing the ire of Sandoval.
Downtown Las Vegas and the Strip are included in Rep. Titus’s congressional district. She recommended that Pence consult with regulators, consumers and gambling industry leaders before coming to any conclusions. She closed her letter by offering to set up meetings between Pence’s staff and those groups involved with online gambling.