The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Standing Committee on Budgets and Revenue held its annual business meeting on August 22, 2014. The group released a list of policies and resolutions aimed at communicating its positions with the federal government.
Many of the policies and resolutions revolve around states’ rights, although not specifically described that way in the release. These include public pensions, taxes and health care. The last section is of particular interest to the online gaming community.
State Sovereignty in Online Gaming (Resolution) (Joint with Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee)
WHEREAS, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) believes the federal government must respect the sovereignty of states to allow or to prohibit Internet gambling by its residents; and
WHEREAS, the 2011 ruling by the United States Justice Department on the Federal Wire Act of 1961, 18 U.S.C. §1084, clarifies that intra-state online gambling is lawful. Any effort by Congress or the administration to reverse this ruling is preemptive and diminishes the flexibility of state legislatures to be innovative and responsive to the unique needs of the residents of each state; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCSL requests Congress consider the perspective of the states as it examines this issue and asks that it involve state legislators in any federal efforts that seek to reform the regulation of online gaming. NCSL strongly opposes any effort by the federal government to overturn the Justice Department’s ruling or consideration of legislation overruling state authority by legalizing or regulating gambling at the federal level. NCSL also requests that federal lawmakers be respectful of state legislatures that prohibit online gaming or other forms of gaming within their state.
This theme has been common among state lawmakers and lotteries. States, as a whole, want to have the decision of expanding gambling left up to them without any interference from the federal government.
Some states have been proactive about banning online gaming. Louisiana, Utah, and Washington have all specifically addressed this issue at the state level. Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey have taken the opposite approach, regulating certain gambling activities. Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota and New York sell lottery tickets online.
The NCSL joins a growing number of groups and elected officials that openly oppose federal intervention on the topic of gambling, something that has historically been left up to the states.