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National Governors Association Protests Federal Online Gambling Ban Proposal

The National Governors Association has joined a growing roster of important legal and political groups from both sides of the aisle in protesting a federal-level ban on online gambling currently in the early stages of consideration in the US Congress.

Twin bills, crafted by a lobbyist working for land-based casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands who seeks market protection for his Venetian and Palazzo casinos, have been introduced by US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and US Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

nga-logoThe bipartisan National Governors Association joins a growing roster of important groups to speak out against the Adelson-funded proposals, and cite the most common reason for doing so: A federal-level ban such as that coveted by Adelson would trample “states rights” protections that have existed as part of the US Constitution since the country itself adopted those principles in its first days.  Gambling is historically understood to be among a large panoply of personal-behavior and responsibility issues that have been relegated to state-level governments, literally for centuries.

The NGA position piece, brief and blunt, was authored by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D), and was distributed on May 9th to Congressional Leaders John Boehner, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi.  The letter was then published on the NGA’s site one week later, last Thursday, and picked up by many sites also opposing Adelson’s anti-Constitutional efforts.  Those groups include the new C4COP (Coalition for Consumer & Online Protection) lobbying group funded by casino-industry competitors of Adelson’s LVSands.

Here’s the letter, in its entirety, as published on the NGA site:

May 16, 2014

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Majority Leader Reid, Senator McConnell, Speaker Boehner, and Representative Pelosi:

The nation’s governors are concerned with legislation introduced in Congress that would ban online Internet gaming and Internet lottery sales because it challenges the federal-state relationship.

The regulation of gaming is an issue that has historically been addressed by the states. Regardless of whether governors are in favor of offering gaming—through whatever form—within their own states, decisions at the federal level that affect state regulatory authority should not be made unilaterally without state input. A strong, cooperative relationship between the states and federal government is vital to best serve the interests of all citizens.

Sincerely,

Governor Robert Bentley
Chair, Economic Development and Commerce Committee

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
Vice Chair, Economic Development and Commerce Committee

The NGA’s addition to the roster of major groups opposing Adelson’s money-driven but undemocratic efforts remains unlikely to sway Adelson, the billionaire who continues to purchase politicians across the country in his efforts to stamp out what he views as potential market competition, even in the face of studies showing that the brick-and-mortar and online gambling markets do not strongly overlap.

Part of Adelson’s latest political purchases have come in the important state of California, which is slowly moving forward with online-poke regulatory discussions, and which has been targeted by Adelson operatives being paid to throw various monkey wrenches into planned legislation.

Among the latest paid converts is former California State Assembly Speaker and one-time San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who is joining a lobbying group already known to have received $175,000 — and likely much more, once the next reporting cycle’s numbers become public — to argue against the state’s online-poker regulating efforts.

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