The National Governors Association (NGA) has recently stated its opposition to legislation introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) which would have an effect of banning online gambling in the nation.
The governors are against a nationwide online gambling and Internet lottery ban as they believe it would be a challenge to the relationship between state and federal governments. Graham and Chaffetz have each introduced a bill this March which is intended to completely prohibit online gambling. They were supported in their endeavor by Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino operator and known donor to conservative causes.
One of the arguments made in favor of a ban by Graham and Chaffetz is that the widespread availability of Internet gambling could be harmful to children, who would have access to the sites from computers, smartphones and other Internet-enabled devices, like tablets and media players. This is despite the fact that legal online gambling services put in place measures that forbid minors from using their sites.
On the other hand, the governors have argued that it is all a matter of states’ rights. Historically, gambling in the United States has been legislated on at the state and not the federal level. Therefore, states are free to choose what forms of gambling they would allow and pass laws and regulations to control it. The governors went on to say that decisions related to gambling at the federal level should only be done with state input.
Not all governors are against the proposed legislation. Rick Perry from Texas and Nikki Haley from South Carolina, both Republicans, have welcomed the bill. On the other hand, the Democratic Governors Association is against it.
Online gambling has previously been banned by the Justice Department. However, the policy was reversed in 2011, when the Wire Act, which regulates the transmission of money for gambling purposes, was changed to apply only to sports bets.
This change in federal legislation has allowed some states to set up legal online gambling services. Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have been the first states to do so. Reports show that numerous other states have expressed an interest in setting up online gambling services for their residents. If an online gambling ban is put in place at the federal level, this could undo the efforts of states seeking to allow it.