Federalism Should Not Be For Rent

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Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino King,  has been a busy man.  In between testifying in a lawsuit accusing him of bribery, Adelson has been pressing his friends in Congress to overturn state laws that allow legal online gaming and even the purchasing over lottery tickets over the Internet.  With a Republican Congress, one would think protecting the Tenth Amendment would be a core principle but  too many GOP members of Congress appear willing to throw principles aside to placate a key political contributor.

New Jersey and a number of other states have legalized Internet gambling for their residents.  Protections are in place to ensure minors cannot participate and so far the experiment has been a moderate success.  But some brick and mortar casino owners are shaking in their loafers that people will no longer travel to Las Vegas to partake in games of chance.  In the case of billionaire Adelson, he has set out to get his friends in the federal government to overturn existing laws and outlaw that ability of states to allow online gaming.

Adelson started a front group designed to scare people into believing that without a government prohibition, “your home could be a casino.”  Their website is complete with pictures of young children gambling online.  Their plea is the get Congress to override the state and outlaw online gaming.  Some members of Congress are carrying their water.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is one of them. A founding member of the House Tenth Amendment Caucus, Chaffetz has turned his back on principles to placate Adelson.  Likewise Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has introduced legislation the Senate that outlaws the ability of states of legalize online gaming.  Adelson has already held a fundraiser for Graham to thank him for his efforts.

The whole campaign is a canard. The legislation pushed by Adelson and his allies does nothing about the hundreds of off-shore gaming websites that are readily accessible without any protections on children gambling.  Under their proposal, citizens would be prohibited from accessing American-based and regulated sites while unregulated sites from Antiqua and Costa Rica could go about their business.

The bill also prohibits states from selling lottery tickets online — a provision championed by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).  Michigan, Georgia and other states would see their state laws trampled by the legislation.  Also, whoever drafted the bill accidentally dropped a bomb on Las Vegas.  As written the legislation would outlaw sports betting in Nevada, according to a report by Apostas Esportivas.

Gambling has always been an issue left to the states for regulation.  There is no pressing need or crisis to take away another state power in order to justify the greed of a billionaire.  This bill should be defeated and conservatives who support it, should look in the mirror.

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