National Governors Association Warns AG Jeff Sessions Over RAWA

Posted on: April 7, 2017, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: April 7, 2017, 05:49h.

The United States Governors Association (NGA) has warned US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that decisions about regulating online gaming and online lottery ticket sales should be left up to individual states.

NGA warns Jeff Sessions
Jeff Sessions’ intent towards the 2011 DoJ opinion is unclear but the National Governors Association was taking no chances this week. (Image: Molly Riley/Getty Images)

In an open letter, dated April 3, and signed by NGA chair, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and co-chair, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, the association advised the controversial attorney general that any federal legislation or DoJ opinion that might lead to the prohibition of online gaming would not be welcome.  

“The regulation of gaming has historically been addressed by the states,” wrote the governors. “While individual governors have different views about offering gaming, in a variety of forms, within their own states, we agree that decisions at the federal level that affect state regulatory authority should not be made unilaterally without state input.

“A strong, cooperative relationship between the states and federal government is vital to best serve the interests of all citizens.”

Sessions’ Intent Unclear

Sessions declared to himself to be “shocked” by the 2011 Department of Justice opinion that paved the way for state-by-state online gambling regulation and said that he would look to “revisit”it as attorney general.

The declaration came during Sessions’ confirmation when he was quizzed on the matter by Senator Lindsey Graham, a longtime supporter of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.

This was an unpopular piece of legislation that sought to overturn the DoJ opinion and ban online gaming on a federal level.

It is unclear whether Sessions’ suggestion that he would revisit the opinion was genuine, or merely a guarded answer from a politician who has been put on the spot.  

States Rights

The NGA is taking no chances, however, and demanded this week that, if there is to be a review, it should be conducted properly. That means acknowledging the robustness of the regulatory frameworks that have been created by the three states, including Sandoval’s, that have chosen to legalize online gambling thus far.

“As you review this issue, we encourage you to take note of the current regulatory mechanisms put in place by the states to ensure that consumers and children are protected, and that licensees comply with strict standards of conduct,” the governors write.

“States are best equipped to regulate and enforce online gaming. A ban drives this activity offshore to unregulated jurisdictions, out of the reach of state and federal law enforcement and with risk to consumers.”

“The nation’s governors stand ready to discuss this issue with you further.”