03/03/2012 : INTERNET POKER LEGALISATION MUST BE A DECISION LEFT TO INDIVIDUAL U.S. STATES
NCSL policy will disappoint major operators hoping for a federal solution
Major US gambling corporates favouring a federal solution to the legalization of online poker will be disappointed with the position taken this week by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which has suggested to Congress that the decision to legalise – or not – falls under states' rights.
Widespread reportage on the issue originated with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which reported Friday that the NCSL had communicated with leaders in the US Congress, emphasising that legalization initiatives should be left to the lawmakers in individual states, as opposed to a federal decision imposed from Congress.
The NCSL letter to Congressional leaders refers to last December's surprise turn-about by the Department of Justice, which affirmed that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting; the NCSL interprets this as handing the authority to legislate on internet poker to individual states.
"The NCSL believes the federal government should respect the Justice Department ruling and would oppose any efforts by Congress to preempt state authority over Internet gaming," two NCSL representatives wrote in the letter, which was addressed to the Democratic and Republican leaders in both the House and Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Reid has been involved in attempts to introduce legalization measures in recent times.
The fierce opposition of the states to any undue interference from the federal level was again evident in the letter, which noted the NCSL's traditional opposition to what it referred to as "unwarranted federal preemption of state authority."
"We ask Congress to respect the sovereignty of states and to not consider any legalization that would overturn the Department of Justice's ruling or to consider any legalization that would regulate gambling at the federal level," the letter added.
"States have long been able to choose whether or not other forms of gambling should be legal and have been very successful in its regulation. We also ask that the federal government respect the rights of states that choose to prohibit Internet gaming."
The LVRJ notes that officials from states with lotteries have also opposed federal Internet poker legalization.