NCSL Comments on the Department of Justice's Ruling on the Federal Wire Act of 1961


March 2, 2012

 

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
1011 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
 
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2803
 
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
235 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
 
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1702
 

 

Re: Department of Justice Clarification of the Federal Wire Act

Dear Speaker Boehner, Representative Pelosi, Senator Reid and Senator McConnell:

The recent ruling by the Department of Justice (DOJ) clarifying the scope of the Federal Wire Act of 1961 has provided states with the authority to determine if they want to legalize intra-state 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.

One of the longstanding principles of NCSL is to oppose unwarranted federal preemption of state authority, thereby providing state legislatures the flexibility they need to be innovative and responsive to the unique needs of the residents in their state.  As this ruling affords each state the option of deciding whether or not to allow Internet gambling for its residents, we ask Congress to respect the sovereignty of states and to not consider any legislation that would overturn the DOJ’s ruling or to consider any legislation that would regulate gambling at the federal level. States have long been able to choose whether or not other forms of gambling should be legal and have been very successful in its regulation. We also ask that the federal government respect the rights of states that choose to prohibit Internet gaming.

We respectfully request the state legislative perspective be considered as Congress examines this issue. If you have any questions regarding the concerns of state legislatures or would like to discuss the issue further, please do not hesitate to contact James Ward (james.ward@ncsl.org; 202-624-8686) or Jeff Hurley(jeff.hurley@ncsl.org; 202-624-7753) in NCSL’s Washington, D.C. office.

Sincerely,

Senator Carol Fukunaga
Hawaii Senate
Co-Chair, NCSL Communications, Financial
Services & Interstate Commerce Committee
Representative Greg Wren
Alabama House of Representatives
Co-Chair, NCSL Communications, Financial
Services & Interstate Commerce Committee

 

cc: Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives