Nevada Officials Criticize Adam Laxalt’s Support of Restore America’s Wire Act
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is a lightning rod for criticism in the ongoing online gambling legislation debate, after he co-signed a letter last month calling for a ban on online gambling by the incoming Trump Administration. The Nevada AG sent a letter recently to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, stating his support for Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA).
Adam Laxalt has supported a federal online gambling ban for a couple of years, earning him the scorn of the Republican governor who appointed him, Brian Sandoval. Several top Nevada officials have expressed their displeasure of the state’s attorney general for his continued support of RAWA.
Since Laxalt signed the November 2016 letter to the Trump transition team, Gov. Brian Sandoval, Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnette, and U.S. Rep. Dina Titus have criticized the attorney general.
RAWA Eliminates Nevada’s States Rights
Those officials expressed dismay that Adam Laxalt supports federal laws that would eliminate Nevada’s power to enforce its own laws. As the chief law enforcement officer in Nevada, Adam Laxalt is calling for federal law to override state law, and thus his own authority in the matter.
That stance concerns fellow Republicans, because the GOP tends to take a “states rights” view on Constitutional matter. States rights advocates argue that states reserve the right to uphold any authority which is not outright given to the federal government under the US Constitution. The idea is that the central government is too powerful and coercive, so state officials should guard their rights jealously against encroachment from Washington D.C.
Those who believe in a more liberal view of federal authority argue that officials in Washington D.C. should assume control in situations where a state government is encroaching on the rights of individual citizens or other states. That authority extends to case where third parties are breaking federal laws, impinging on the rights of other states, or undermining the human rights of individuals.
Proponents of RAWA’s online gambling ban claim Nevada’s iPoker sites are overriding the right of states like Utah, Hawaii, or South Carolina to ban gambling in their states.
Nevada Government Officials’ Statements
A.G. Burnett, the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said those proponents are mistating the issues. Because of geolocation technology (GPS), those who gamble on Nevada online poker sites cannot gamble on their smartphones or desktop computers once they leave the confines of Nevada.
A.G. Burnett recently spoke to Ralston Reports about Adam Laxalt’s letter. He said, “Internet gaming in Nevada has been a complete regulatory success [in Nevada]. We’ve had no issues with patron protection or ensuring it is done to the letter of the law. I’m disappointed Mr Laxalt didn’t consult with his clients on this.”
When asked whether Gov. Sandoval supported Laxalt’s letter to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, a spokesman for the governor’s office said, “He doesn’t support this.”
Dina Titus Criticizes Adam Laxalt
US Representative Dina Titus, who represents the congressional district which contains Las Vegas, offered the most spirited rebuke defense of online gambling in her letter criticizing Adam Laxalt.
Dina Titus said, “The letter submitted by the Attorneys General contains several inaccuracies and unfair allegations. For example, the letter cites a study of youth in Connecticut and their online gambling habits. Unfortunately, the letter fails to note that online gambling is not legal in Connecticut, so any adolescent online gaming would be done by utilizing offshore or illegal Internet sites.
“In Nevada, where there ae effective controls in place to verify age and location, there has not been a single reported instance of minors playing poker online.
“Furthermore, throughout the letter there is no distinction made between legal online gaming and illegal operations. In states where online gaming is legal and regulated, there are extensive consumer protections in place that are enforced by state law enforcement authorities.”
Unregulated Versus Regulated Gambling
Thus, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt argued against poker regulations based on criticisms of unregulated poker sites. This is a common argument put forward by proponents of RAWA. In some cases, those arguments might be innocent (yet ignorant), because the advocate does not understand the difference in regulated and unregulated gaming.
In other cases, the proponents of Restore America’s Wire Act are smart enough to realize they are mistating the facts. Whatever the case, those who support regulated online gambling must correct the record anytime inaccurate information is used to justify a federal ban.
Eliminating State Protections for Gamblers
Adam Laxalt’s argument is akin to calling for a ban on the regulated pharmeceutical industry, because banned substances might be harmful to people. The argument does not make sense, once people like Rep. Dina Titus and Chairman A.G. Burnett point out the facts.
When states legalize online gambling, they impose regulations on them which makes it safer for those who gamble online. When they ban online gambling, those same players do not stop gambling online, but instead send their money to illegal offshore websites. Thus, the RAWA ban would leave American gamblers more vulnerable, while doing little to curb online gambling itself.
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