Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt told political reporter, Jon Ralston this week that he intends to add his name to a letter circulating among state attorneys general in support of the so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). The proposed law is supported financially and otherwise by land casino mogul and chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., Sheldon Adelson. The RAWA would make online gambling a crime for the first time at a federal level, and walk back the 2013 legislation that specifically authorized online poker and casinos in Nevada (to date only poker has a framework for regulation in the state).
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (pictured) wasted no time in calling foul.
“The gaming industry is changing and in order for Nevada’s businesses to maintain a competitive edge internationally, we must enact policies that allow the industry to meet the demands of a younger, more technologically engaged gamer,” Sandoval said in a statement.
“The groundbreaking online gaming bill previously passed by the legislature provides local businesses with an environment where they can grow and prosper,” the governor continued.
Sandoval went on to note that as a former AG and Gambling Commission Chairman himself he was concerned that anyone who represents the state’s legal interests would speak out publicly about current state law in regard to a leading industry in the state.
Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman, A.G. Burnett lent his dismay to the subject saying that the law allowed for state-regulated poker in a legal format, and that if the state law was usurped, he was, “concerned that would mean that offshore operators would still be able to offer illegal, unregulated online poker, while licensed and suitable entities are banned from doing so,” Burnett said.
Laxalt came out with guns blazing after his election last year painting himself as a champion of state’s rights, telling the Las Vegas Review Journal on December 7, “It’s important for me to make sure the attorney general’s office is adequately defending the state from any federal legislation that’s hurting our jobs and hurting our economy and that’s taking away our liberty,” Laxalt told the paper. “That’s a priority of mine — to reset the bargaining table just to make clear that we as a state have full input in future federal actions.”
Although the Laxalt name is well known in Nevada (the AG is the grandson of former Governor and US Senator Paul Laxalt) he had never run for public office before last year. In November he upset heavy favorite, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller to win the popular vote after Sheldon Adelson launched his “Stop Miller Now” campaign and bankrolled Laxalt to become the top cop in the Silver State, according to Politico.
The Ralston Report had several updates over the ensuing days after Tuesday’s interview with the AG. One of them was prompted by a phone call from Steve Wynn, who speaking in signature third person style told Ralston, “Steve Wynn looks at this in balance as someone who looks at [online gambling] as being bad for Nevada,” Wynn told Ralston. “It’s not good for Nevada, the exposure outweighs whatever the murky notion is of profitability.”
Ralston also included a quote from MGM CEO Jim Murren from an interview last week, expressing concern over whether Laxalt would sign on to the letter. He told Ralston, “There’s legislation out there to restore the wire act and states are looking at this. [T]hat would be setting the state of Nevada back 30 years,” Murren told him. ” I very much hope our attorney general doesn’t sign on to that because that literally would be saying I am against the gaming industry in Nevada, I’m against jobs, I’m against social media, I’m against IGT, I’m against the largest employer in the state.”
In response to whether he was was ‘doing his thing for Sheldon Adelson’ in return for campaign support, Laxalt replied that he had not spoken to Adelson about the matter.