Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced Tuesday via Twitter that he had officially filed the paperwork to run for Governor this fall. That he has thrown his hat into the ring is significant because he is extremely anti-online poker.
His stance on internet poker became known in late 2015, when he confirmed that he would be signing a letter with other state Attorneys General in support of Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill. Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., is a billionaire Republican donor and has stated that he will do “whatever it takes” to get online gambling banned in the United States.
One of those things that he has done is pen (or have his legal flunkies pen) RAWA, a bill which would revert the Department of Justice’s official interpretation of the Wire Act to the incorrect one and include all online gambling under its umbrella. The Wire Act, passed in 1961, specifically bans sports betting over communications lines, but for years, the DoJ interpreted it so as to make all online gambling illegal. In late 2011, the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) clarified its stance on the Wire Act, saying that it only applies to sports betting. The goal of RAWA, as mentioned, would be to turn back time and go back to the former, wrong interpretation, making online poker illegal.
And Laxalt, the Attorney General and aspiring Governor of the first state to legalize online poker, supports RAWA. Go figure.
Speaking with Jon Ralston on his Nevada Public Television show, “Ralston Live,” in November 2015, Laxalt tried to explain:
There’s a couple giant exceptions to this, alright? One is Congress spoke on this issue and had an existing Wire Act, ok? And then Attorney General Holder issued an opinion a few days before Christmas some years ago and changed that landscape. He changed that landscape without gaming companies, without law enforcement, without all the parties that should’ve been involved to make sure that we can keep consumers safe and all this can be done properly. So, I think obviously in this case we’re looking to return it back to what the status quo was, that Congress passed, and, you know, the other thing is obviously gaming is a different animal. You know, you have, you need to know where the sources of money are coming from and you need to make sure you can police this area.
He used the excuse at the time that Adelson, Steve Wynn, and Nevada Senators Harry Reid and Dean Heller all supported RAWA.
Then and current governor Brian Sandoval, a big supporter of online gambling, said of Laxalt’s opinion, “….I am very concerned that anyone representing the state’s legal interests would speak out against current state law in our leading industry. 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.”
I don’t know who will be running against Laxalt, but here’s to hoping Laxalt loses.