More Resources


  • Meagan Dorsch
    Director of Public Affairs
  • Jon Kuhl
    Public Affairs Specialist
    Washington, D.C.
March 7, 2012

NCSL to Congress:  Leave Online Gambling Decisions to the States

Washington, D.C. – In a letter to congressional leaders, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) urged Congress not to preempt the states, and leave any decision on online gambling to the states. The letter follows the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) ruling clarifying the scope of the Federal Wire Act of 1961, which gives authority to legalize intra-state online gambling solely to the states. 

“Regardless of how one feels about the issue of online gambling, the decision should be made by the states,” said Alabama Representative Greg Wren, co-chair of the NCSL Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee. “State legislators are best suited to tackle this issue and decide what is in the best interests of the people they represent.”

One of the longstanding principles of NCSL is to oppose unwarranted federal preemption of state authority, allowing state legislatures the flexibility they need to  innovate and respond to the unique needs of the residents in their state. The DOJ ruling affords each state the option of deciding whether to allow Internet gambling for its residents. NCSL urges Congress to respect the ruling and not consider legislation to overturn it or to regulate gambling at the federal level.

“State legislatures have long been able to determine whether to allow other forms of gambling, and this should be no different,” said Hawaii Senator Carol Fukunaga, the other co-chair of the NCSL committee.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.