GOP platform hurts Nevada

Anti-gambling stance could prevent expansion of industry, damage state economy

Richard N. Velotta

Richard N. Velotta

One of the reasons so many people hate politics is that well-meaning leaders often do more harm than good when they try to legislate public policy.

The Republican Party’s attempt to protect people from themselves by pledging to oppose online gambling illustrates that point, and it could ultimately result in negative consequences for Nevada’s tourism industry.

Nevada gaming professionals and government leaders worked diligently to deliver thoughtful online poker policies, draft regulations and begin issuing licenses. But the GOP platform stands in the way of triggering play on a scale that would benefit our state.

The state is counting on some form of federal online gaming legislation to be approved for nationwide online poker play. And although the state Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission are making a good first step issuing licenses for intrastate play, Nevada simply doesn’t have the number of players needed to make online poker a game-changer.

The presumed next step would be to add players by developing compacts with other states and finding a way to share tax revenue with them. But the GOP platform is a new impediment.

Adopted at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., under the category of “Making the Internet family-friendly,” the platform states: “We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting.”

It is hard to say what effect legalizing Internet poker would have on Nevada’s casino industry. Some say it would drive people out of casinos and onto their computers to play. Others say online poker represents an opportunity to increase player volume because online competition builds a bigger pool of gamblers who eventually will want to experience live play in a casino poker room.

Considering that most of the casino industry supports developing online play — and don’t forget that thousands of people already play online through offshore casino sites — it appears that most see legalizing Internet poker as a positive for the industry and state. And, since most of the top-drawer poker rooms are in Las Vegas, it stands to reason that legalizing online play would attract people here.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, activated the Gaming Policy Committee this year to address Nevada’s online gaming strategy, and committee members thoroughly reviewed how to proceed. Sandoval has stated publicly that he doesn’t think the anti-online gaming plank in the Republican platform would hurt the state’s efforts or change its strategy.

That may be wishful thinking. The plank could sway lawmakers who have been riding the fence on the issue.

Democrats could have made political hay and maybe even won a few votes with the issue, but they chose not to address online gaming in their platform.

And while Nevada leaders have a vision for making the state the center of online gaming in the United States, the window of opportunity is closing. For all the political blather about Nevada mattering in this election and the battle cry to create new tech jobs here, you’d think the dominant political parties would have dealt us a better hand.

Tags: News, Business


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  1. The online poker advocates, and the casino industry are missing the point. The industry advocates want online poker, the USA of States of America does not! This is where online poker advocates just don't get it!

    Just a bit of history---The casino industry was not the initial force behind online poker. It was, and still is, the online poker sites and their backers, their investors, the funding arm, who are "all in" with online poker. If you all remember the casino industry was slow to act, to a large degree this is not a top priority for the brick and mortar casino operators. To recall, the Nevada Gaming Commission was asleep on the online poker deal. Yeah! Nevada! The Cadillac of gaming regulatory in the USA. Why? Because online poker was an interest to them, or the casino industry, at least not in Nevada. The online poker advocates have been pulling Nevada State Law makers, Nevada US Senators and Representatives along. Why are the law makers involved? Money! Lobbyist are living on the phone, at Reno and are consent in the ear of Harry Reid. The online poker advocates, the supporters, want badly some kind of law passed at the Federal level....Now!!!! They are persistent, to the point of being relentless! Money is not just being spent in Nevada. The online poker advocates are spending money on current and former lawmakers at the state and federal level in amounts approaching the need for a federal review of who and how much.

    The bottom line, there will be no federal online poker legislation coming out of Washington. Not now, or within the next 10 years. What the online poker advocates and supporter have done---open online poker for a discussion with the America people. If congress were to pass an online poker bill while the America people were asleep, asleep because of the economic conditions, world conditions, a sense of malaise because of the gridlock in Washington. and then out of the blue congress comes together and passes an online poker friends, you think the opposition to President Obama is severe? There would be an opposition that would challenge the two party system at the core!!!

    All money is not good money! Online poker is a genie in the bottle that needs to stay in the bottle. How does one destroy America society? This is an easy one! Place a person inside a room, behind a computer, and have them stay behind the computer for hours spending money from an 8-hour or part-time job until the money is all gone. Some compare online poker to crack cocaine! Others say it is the next step from viewing online porn. Others are saying America productivity will decease 3 to 5 percent, and school drop rates will skyrocket. Go figure! All money is not good money!

  2. So now the liberal rag that depends upon the conservative rag is trying to scare Nevada voters with something that is not important? Online gaming isn't going to pass Congress anyway, but it is going to be legalized by many states. Nevada will have a better chance of reaching deals with these states than it every would have with a Congressional bill. And it's not going to pass because Harry Reid can't come up with a bill that will satisfy Republicans, not because they are against it. Reid's bill would also restrict any other growth of online gaming. How about focusing on how that would strangle a young industry. Stop playing politics with EVERY story!

  3. As I understand it, a respected US District Court has ruled that the federal ban on gambling does not apply to online poker because poker is a game of skill and not of chance, and that ruling has not been reversed by a higher court. So why is it that we need legislation to move ahead with online poker?