And they’re back. Across the US, 10 state attorneys general have written to petition the incoming Trump administration, asking that the President- elect and his VP consider imposing a federal ban on online gambling by reinstating the 1961 Wire Act to its original interpretation.
Among them is Nevada AG Adam Laxalt, whose signature on the letter, sent this week to Vice President Elect Mike Pence, is likely to infuriate Silver State Governor Brian Sandoval.
It’s a repeat of an earlier stance by Laxalt, who just a year ago stated that he would back RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, the Sheldon Adelson-sponsored internet gambling ban bill.
In fact, it was a similar letter of support of the bill by various state AGs at that time as well, but no one in their wildest dreams last year imagined that Donald Trump and Mike Pence would be getting ready to take office in January.
The letter, which was tweeted in full by the Poker Players Alliance, makes the now-familiar plea for a 2011 Department of Justice interpretation of the Wire Act to be overturned. The DOJ’s opinion that the 1961 Wire Act prohibited remote sports betting alone, and not online poker and casino action on the internet, paved the way for Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware to regulate the games.
Trump Can Undo “Dangerous Precedent”
“The risks to our citizens are real and extensive,” claims the multi-AGs’ letter. “The ability for youth to access online gaming sites presents a significant risk to teens, a risk more easily mitigated at traditional brick-and-mortar establishments.
“State officials have worked diligently to lobby Congress to overturn the DOJ [Wire Act] interpretation, but they need your help,” it continues. “The next administration, led by President-elect Donald Trump, has an opportunity to undo the dangerous precedent set by the Obama Administration.”
As well as Laxalt, attorneys general from Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah added their backing to the push. The signature from Michigan AG Bill Schuette is especially significant, because lawmakers in his state are seriously considering regulating online poker, an option that would be overturned should Schuette’s wishes be granted.
Six Degrees of Adelson Separation
When Laxalt last year publicly expressed his enthusiasm for dismantling Nevada’s fledgling online gambling industry, Sandoval declared himself “very concerned that anyone representing the state’s legal interests would speak out against current state law in our leading industry.”
Laxalt’s 2014 election campaign, much like President-elect Donald Trump’s, received funding from LVS chairman Sheldon Adelson, the architect and financial sponsor of the movement to ban online gambling at a federal level.
“Adam Laxalt doesn’t think NV regulators can regulate web gaming, asks Trump for help. Adelson happy,” tweeted the veteran Nevada political commentator John Ralston over the weekend.
Indiana Governor and VP-elect Pence is a longtime political opponent of gambling. His soon-to-be-boss in the White House, a former casino mogul, perhaps less so. Trump’s position on online gambling remains a bit muddy, however. In a 2011 interview with Forbes, he declared: “[Online gambling] has to happen, because many other countries are doing it and, like usual, the US is just missing out.”
Since then, he has remained silent on the matter, although it’s doubtful its prohibition will be an even Top 50 priority once he ascends to the White House on January 20, 2017.