Former Nevada AG Adam Laxalt Joins Anti-Internet Gambling Law Firm as Wire Act Fight Looms
Posted on: March 26, 2019, 12:13h.
Last updated on: March 26, 2019, 12:13h.
Republican Adam Laxalt, the former Nevada attorney general who unsuccessfully ran on the Republican ticket for governor against Steve Sisolak (D) last year, has joined a DC-based law firm that has lobbied on behalf of an anti-online gambling group.
Laxalt announced this week he’s joined Cooper and Kirk, a firm known for lobbying for conservative causes.
I am honored to join the existing team of talented attorneys that include many US Supreme Court clerks and nationally renowned litigators,” Laxalt said via social media. “I am also honored to join the storied tradition of this firm and its alumni including Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and current Solicitor General Noel Francisco.”
OpenSecrets.org shows that the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) paid $150,000 to Cooper and Kirk in lobbying fees in 2017.
“Targeting the young, the poor, and the elderly everywhere they live, internet gambling takes gambling too far,” the CSIG mission states. “Internet gambling crosses the line of responsible gaming by bringing gambling into our living rooms and onto our smartphones, tablets, and home computers 24 hours a day without necessary protections.”
All-Important Wire Act
Las Vegas Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson has been on a crusade for several years to ban online gambling. In 2011, the US Department of Justice said in an opinion that the 1961 Wire Act banned the transmission of money relating to sports betting only – not all forms of gambling.
The decision effectively allowed states to legalize internet gambling within their borders. Adelson – one of the largest GOP donors – used his political prowess to convince US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and former US Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to introduce legislation to their respective chambers that would have reversed the 2011 Wire Act interpretation.
Both bills never gained any momentum. But during President Donald Trump’s administration – who greatly benefited from Adelson’s support in the late days of his 2016 presidential campaign – the DOJ recently took another look at the federal statute and concluded the 2011 opinion was erroneous.
In response, the CSIG said in a statement that the Justice Department’s Wire Act reversal now “seamlessly aligns with the … longstanding position that federal law prohibits all forms of internet gambling.”
Adelson is one of the country’s wealthiest individuals at an estimated $35 billion, but there is much more money at stake should the new Wire Act be implemented and interstate lottery games be impacted.
The refreshed stance – law experts say – threatens popular lottery games such as Mega Millions and Powerball, as well in-state internet lottery games, mobile sports betting, and online casinos.
Americans purchase more than $70 billion worth of lottery tickets each year. New Jersey online casinos generated nearly $300 million in gaming revenue in 2018.
Former Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) – who is now working with MGM Resorts to win licensure in Japan – said in 2015 regarding Laxalt’s anti-online gambling support, “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.”
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