Governors oppose online gambling ban

 

The National Governors Association (NGA) is opposing legislation from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) that would ban online gambling.

"The nation's governors are concerned with legislation introduced in Congress that would ban online Internet gaming and Internet lottery sales because it challenges the federal-state relationship," the governors wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

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Backed by billionaire casino owner and conservative donor Sheldon Adelson, Graham and Chaffetz introduced twin bills in March that would ban online gambling. They argue this practice would be harmful to children who may have access to such sites from their smartphones and computers. 

But the National Governors Association's Economic Development and Commerce Committee told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the letter that they oppose the ban.

The governors say it would take away states' rights to regulate gaming within their borders. 

"The regulation of gaming is an issue that has historically been addressed by the states," the governors said. "Regardless of whether governors are in favor of offering gaming — through whatever form — within their own states, decisions at the federal level that affect state regulatory authority should not be made unilaterally without state input.

"A strong, cooperative relationship between the states and federal government is vital to best serve the interests of all citizens," the governors added.

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) also opposes the ban, but some Republican governors have supported the legislation. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) are cheering Graham's bill.

The Justice Department had banned online gambling for years until it reversed this policy in 2011 by limiting the Wire Act to only apply to sports betting. 

This freed up a handful of states to move forward with online gambling. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have all approved online gambling within their borders, while several other states are looking to do the same. 

But a federal ban on Internet gambling would wipe away these efforts by states to allow the practice. 

The NGA letter dated May 9 was actually sent last Friday, but wasn't made public until Monday.