Last week, the National Governors Association took a firm stance against a federal ban of online gaming and Internet lottery sales. In a bipartisan letter signed by Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe and Nevada’s Brian Sandoval, the NGA told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that despite differing personal opinions about online gaming among the nation’s governors, the Association firmly believed that regulation of gaming is best left to states:
States are best equipped to regulate and enforce online gaming. A ban drives this activity offshore to unregulated jurisdictions, out of the reach of state and federal law enforcement and with risk to consumers.
But the nation’s governors are up against a powerful political player — billionaire casino operator and mega donor, Sheldon Adelson. Adelson has the ear of President Donald Trump after spending more than $45 million to help Republicans in 2016. That helped him earn a spot at dinner at the White House in early February, just weeks after President Trump took office.
And there’s no doubt that Adelson is pushing the Trump Administration to support a federal online gaming ban. He famously pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to ban online gaming.
While that would be good for Adelson’s brick-and-mortar casino business, it would be bad for proponents of federalism.
And that’s where the governors have a stake. States have developed their own gaming policies within their own borders for decades and have developed strong regulatory mechanisms. The idea that the federal government would override that authority to support a political ally is concerning. It’s good to see both Republicans and Democrats at the NGA unite and come out strongly opposed to such a move.