The Nevada tiff over online gambling has reached Congress.
Nevada’s Attorney General Adam Laxalt recently made his stance against online gambling and poker known when he signed a letter addressed to President-Elect Donald Trump and several others. The letter was signed by nine other state attorneys general. In the letter, he supported a movement to clarify the scope of the Wire Act to cover all forms of online gambling.
Many in Nevada are not happy with Laxalt’s actions. One person who is taking action is Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). The congresswoman penned her own letter to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, debunking many of the statements in the letter from Laxalt and company.
No underage gambling in Nevada
The first matter Titus addresses in her letter is the notion that all online gambling has a high risk of underage participants:
“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.”
WSOP.com’s Head of Poker, Bill Rini, affirmed the safeguards in place on the company’s website. Moreover, he explained the identity verification system allows WSOP NV and WSOP NJ to restrict more than just minors. With the cooperation of the Nevada Gaming Commission, the site is able to exclude identified problem gamblers and those who have requested to be self-excluded from gaming in the state.
Titus offers to teach Pence about regulated online gambling
Titus’s biggest criticism is that the letter fails to distinguish between regulated and unregulated gambling. Laxalt is the only AG involved in the letter who is working in a state with regulated online gaming. Those states are Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.
Rather than let Laxalt speak for the Silver State, Titus has volunteered to help Pence and others in the transition team speak with industry leaders and regulators. That would allow them to understand how regulated online poker and gambling works and demonstrate how many jobs have been created thanks to the relatively new industry.
Titus claims this is a states’ rights issue
One area where Titus does seem to be changing her tune regarding online gambling is referencing states’ rights as one of the reasons Pence should ignore the Laxalt letter’s pleas.
In 2013, Titus pushed to get online gambling debated in Congress. Her stance was that online gambling regulation should be passed on a federal level.
Now, Titus is citing the states’ rights argument to protect the progress online gambling has made on the state level. Given that states like Pennsylvania and Michigan are making some headway on the issue, online gambling proponents are focusing on the issue on a state-by-state basis.
This renewed assault from the opposition on the federal front is something that cannot be ignored, however.