Being from Nevada—a state with legal online poker—you’d think that Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt would support online gaming. However, during an appearance on “Ralston Live,” Laxalt discussed how he actually supports the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), which would ban iGaming on a federal level. Furthermore, he wants other state attorney generals to help him get Congress to pass RAWA. That said, let’s expand on Laxalt’s opinion along with why his position on this subject is so questionable.
Laxalt is against US Department of Justice’s Opinion on Wire Act
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice gave their opinion that the Wire Act, which prohibits certain types of interstate gambling, only applies to sports betting. Laxalt told host Jon Ralston that the U.S. DoJ overstepped their authority by ruling that most types of interstate online gaming are okay. The Nevada A.G. also blamed former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for “changing that landscape” with regard to interstate gambling’s legality.
He expanded on this thought by saying Holder’s office should have gotten opinions from law enforcement and casino companies before issuing their statement. Another point that Laxalt made involved the theory that iGaming supports money laundering and terrorism, an idea often floated by Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG).
“We need to return back to the status quo. Gaming is a different animal,” Laxalt said. “We need to know the sources of money.”
Why Laxalt shouldn’t be the One supporting RAWA
First off, Laxalt is supposed to be all for states’ rights, given that this was one of his key beliefs when he ran for A.G. in 2014. His website further asserts his position by stating, “Today we live in an America with a federal government that hurts our economy, tramples state’s rights, and limits personal liberty.” This certainly doesn’t seem to be how Laxalt thinks with regard to online poker and casino games, though.
It’s also believed that Ralston may have some connection to Adelson and the Las Vegsa Sands Chairman’s CSIG. Ralston asked about this during the show, and Laxalt denied discussing the matter with Adelson. But it’s worth pointing out that Robert Uithoven, Laxalt’s campaign manager, is on CSIG’s board and has done lobbying work for the group. Adelson also donated to Laxalt’s 2014 campaign and ran derogatory ads against his opponent, Ross Miller.
Nevada is against Laxalt’s Position
As if reneging on his states’ rights platform and having connections to RAWA aren’t enough, Adam Laxalt is basically going against most of his state. The Nevada legislature voted unanimously to pass an online poker bill, while Governor Brian Sandoval signed the bill into effect right away. Not surprisingly, Sandoval also disapproves of what Laxalt said on Ralston Live.
“I am very concerned that anyone representing the state’s legal interests would speak out against current state law in our leading industry,” Sandoval wrote. “At its core, this is a state’s rights issue and I disagree with the Attorney General that a federal government one-size-fits-all solution is in the best interest of Nevada.”
A.G. Burnett, Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, is yet another in-state figure who disagrees with Laxalt. Burnett said banning online poker in the state “would mean that offshore operators would still be able to offer illegal, unregulated online poker, while licensed and suitable entities are banned from doing so.”
The reality is that RAWA probably won’t ever pass, based on how illogical it is. However, the position taken by Laxalt seems pretty off base when considering his campaign and how the rest of Nevada feels