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  • Meagan Dorsch
    Director of Public Affairs
  • Jon Kuhl
    Public Affairs Specialist
    Washington, D.C.
August 9, 2012

NCSL Approves Online Gambling Resolution Reinforcing State Sovereignty

CHICAGO – As online gambling becomes an increasingly hot issue across states, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) on Thursday passed a policy resolution urging the federal government to respect state sovereignty.

“The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) believes the federal government must respect the sovereignty of states to allow or to prohibit Internet gambling by their residents,” implored NCSL in its new policy resolution. “NCSL requests Congress consider the perspective of the states as it examines this issue and asks that it involve state legislators in any federal efforts that seek to reform the regulation of online gaming.”

On Wednesday, NCSL hosted a panel session on Internet gaming. “Placing Bets on Gaming: What’s On the Screen?” featured prominent experts and industry stakeholders, including Margaret DeFrancisco, president and CEO of the Georgia Lottery Corporation. The session addressed the possible fiscal and regulatory impacts of federal legislation that would encroach on state authority to regulate online gambling. The session also explored state gaming developments, including efforts to legalize, prohibit, and regulate online gambling.

"Throughout U.S. history, state have retained, under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, the authority to establish their own gambling policies and the federal government has deferred to the states by enacting only the laws necessary to support state policies," said DeFrancisco.

NCSL sent a letter to congressional leaders in March asking Congress to respect the right of states to regulate online gambling: “The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) believes the federal government should respect the DOJ ruling and would oppose any efforts by Congress to preempt state authority over Internet gaming.” DOJ’s ruling provided states the authority to determine if they want to legalize online gambling within their state.

At the session on Wednesday, DeFrancisco echoed NCSL's sentiment on the DOJ ruling: "The DOJ opinion leaves to the states the responsibility for regulating gaming within their respective borders. The deference to state legislatures and governors and citizens in regard to gaming regulation is appropriate and in accordance with historic precedent."

In 2012, at least seven states – California, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Mississippi, and New Jersey – have introduced legislation authorizing forms of online gambling. Only Delaware and Nevada currently authorize online gambling, while Utah passed legislation prohibiting it. Michigan and Colorado have introduced legislation prohibiting online lottery sales.

The online gambling resolution passed Thursday at the Business Meeting of the 2012 Legislative Summit in Chicago, Ill. The Budgets and Revenue Committee and the Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee approved the measure on Tuesday.

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.