At least 10 state attorneys in the US have signed a letter to congressional leaders and the House and Senate Judiciary committees asking Congress to keep online gaming illegal in the country.
TheHill.com website reports that the group of state officials is being led by attorneys general Chris Koster (Missouri), Jon Bruning (Nebraska) and Alan Wilson (South Carolina), who want lawmakers to stop the online gambling movement in the US by clarifying anti-fraud law.
The overall effort is being headed by Sheldon Adelson, who is the chairman of casino and resort company Las Vegas Sand Corporation and funds the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling campaign group.
The letter was first presented last year by Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp during a presentation to the Republican Attorneys General Association in response to a change of online gambling law.
In 2011, the Justice Department ruled that the anti-fraud Wire Act only prohibits online sportsbetting and not other forms of online gambling. Since the ruling, the US states of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have all legalised online gambling.
The added support of state attorneys general to the campaign will boost the effort with such individuals serving as the top law enforcement official in each state and thus having the final word on enforcing online gaming rules.
“Online gambling exacerbates problems associated with gambling addiction and we’re proud to be working with a number of other states to address the issue,” the letter from the state officials said.
“Given the inherently interstate nature of internet gambling transactions, we anticipate that it will become increasingly difficult to effectively regulate such conduct as additional jurisdictions consider legalising internet gambling.”
A spokesperson for Bruning said that the Nebraska attorney general “always has been, and continues to be, strongly opposed to expanded gambling”.
In response, the Poker Players Alliance campaign group that backs online gambling has asked supporters to urge their own attorney generals not to sign the letter.
John Pappas, executive director of the group, said it had accumulated nearly 8,500 tweets and over 9,000 letters and emails to state officials so far.
Pappas also criticised Adelson for pushing Congress to pass the legislation and said the move would add language to the Wire Act that would explicitly prohibit online gambling.
“Having the Attorneys General letter would be a component of getting a sponsor for that bill,” Pappas said.
Pappas also said any addition to the Wire Act would “create a complete legal quagmire” for the three states that have already opted to legalise online gambling.