Even as several organizations, individuals, and gambling companies across the US are pressing for federal legalization and regulation of the online poker industry, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has come up with arguments against federal legalization. The NCSL has informed Congress leaders that legalization of online poker should be left to individual states.
Two major law makers have written on behalf of the NCSL, in which they have cited the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) ruling of December, stating that the 1961 Federal Wire Act does not apply to online poker, but only to betting on sports. This ruling gives the states the power to legalize and regulate its online gambling industry, they feel.
Carol Fukunaga, the senate of Hawaii state, and Greg Wren, the representative for Alabama, both co-chairs of NCSL Communications, Financial Services, and Interstate Commerce Committee, wrote, “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.” They have addressed their letter to Republican as well as Democratic leaders in the Senate as well as the House. A copy has also reached Harry Reid, the majority leader in Senate.
Citing the fact that the NCSL has long been opposed “to unwarranted federal pre-emption of state authority,” the lawmakers have requested Congress leaders to leave it to individual states to decide whether or not they must legalize and regulated the online poker industry within their respective territories.
The letter states, “We ask Congress to respect the sovereignty of states and to not consider any legislation that would overturn the Department of Justices ruling or to consider any legislation that would regulate gambling at the federal level. 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.”
Besides the NCSL, officials of states that run lotteries are also not enthusiastic about federal legalization and regulation of the online poker industry and want this authority to belong to individual states.
Simultaneously, federal legalization of the online poker industry also has strong support. A large number of top land-based casino companies, including the American Gaming Association (AGA), which is based in Washington DC, are in support of federal laws for online poker gaming.