Nevada AG Adam Laxalt Mulling Gubernatorial Run, No Friend to Online Gambling

Posted on: February 21, 2017, 02:30h. 

Last updated on: February 21, 2017, 02:34h.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is reportedly preparing a run for the Republican slot as a contender for next governor of the Silver State.

Adam Laxalt Nevada governor
If Adam Laxalt becomes governor of Nevada in 2019, he would be just 40 years of age in the state’s most powerful office. The youngest current governor in the US is New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu at 42. (Image: Jerry Henkel/Review-Journal)

Current Governor Brian Sandoval (R) will be forced out of office when his second term comes to a close in early January of 2019. The state’s GOP and the national caucus will work adamantly to keep control of Nevada’s executive branch, and Laxalt, a well-known figure who comes from a long pedigree of lawmakers, likely improves those odds.

But for online gambling proponents, a Laxalt governorship presents a host of potential concerns. The chief legal voice in Nevada has been no friend to the expansion of internet casinos, even with the Silver State being one of just three in the US with legal online gambling.

In late 2016, Laxalt was one of 10 state attorneys general to sign a letter addressed to then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence urging the incoming administration to restore the Wire Act to its original interpretation.

Sandoval routinely scolded Laxalt for his longstanding opposition to online wagering. “I am very concerned that anyone representing the state’s legal interests would speak out against current state law in our leading industry,” the governor said in the fall of 2015.

The AG’s grandfather, Paul Laxalt, was the 22nd governor of Nevada, as well as a US senator. His father is former US Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), who fathered Adam out-of-wedlock with staffer Michelle Laxalt. Domenici only confessed to being Adam’s biological father in 2013.

Six Degrees of Separation from Adelson

It is now a little more than five years since the Department of Justice issued an opinion that the Wire Act pertained only to sports betting, and that general online gambling fell outside the scope of the federal law.

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has funded a congressional effort to pass RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, as he believes it’s his moral duty to curtail internet betting. While the proposed legislation from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has received multiple hearings, it’s garnered little support in Washington, DC.

But due to Adelson’s strong influence by way of campaign contributions, RAWA and similar measures continue to loiter the US Capitol.

Should Laxalt officially run, he’ll want to be on good terms with Adelson. During his 2014 campaign to become attorney general, Sheldon and wife Miriam donated $10,000 each. His daughter, Shelly Adelson, additionally gave $5,000.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Laxalt has received roughly $1.5 million in total gubernatorial contributions, per his latest campaign finance filing.

CPAC Controversy

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will hold its annual meeting this week at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland, which is just steps from the new MGM resort.

Laxalt is scheduled to give a presentation on intellectual property law on Friday. The four-day event is attracting a who’s who of conservatism, with everyone from President Donald Trump and VP Mike Pence to White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and recently appointed US Attorney General Jeff Sessions scheduled to appear.

Controversy arose on Monday after former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who was booked to deliver the CPAC keynote, was accused of endorsing pedophilia. The conservative commentator says a video was cleverly edited and that preying on children is “vile and disgusting,” but regardless, CPAC removed him from the convention.

Yiannopolous voluntarily stepped down from his position as a senior editor at Breitbart on Tuesday, vowing to clear his name on his own time. The Nevada State Democratic Party has called on the attorney general to withdraw from the event. As of now, Laxalt is still planning on attending.