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State lotteries head to Washington to enforce states' rights on gambling

Mar 25, 2015, 10:57 am

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"Restoration of America's Wire Act" legislation would restrict your rights to spend your money as you please

State Lottery officials from across the United States held meetings with members of Congress today in Washington, D.C., to add their voices to those of state lawmakers advocating for the federal government to continue to support states' authority to establish their own gambling policies.

The lottery officials expressed their concerns about proposed federal legislation designed to restrict states' rights in regulating Internet gaming. House Resolution 707, introduced Feb. 4, would amend America's Wire Act by instituting strict regulations covering Internet gaming that could have serious consequences for state lotteries across the nation.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3).  The latest action on the bill came on March 16th, when it was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

The full text of the bill can be found below in the Related Links section.

"While we understand the concerns many have about Internet gaming, states have a long and successful history of listening to their constituents and developing a regulated approach that's working," said Charlie McIntyre, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. "Shifting that responsibility to the federal government is not only an infringement of states' rights, it's a bad policy decision."

State lottery directors met with elected leaders on both sides of the aisle to express their concerns about the unintended consequences of the proposed legislation.

Topping the list of those concerns is that under the proposal, expansion could continue of a dangerous and unregulated black market for Internet gaming that not only poses risks to children, but also leads to criminal activity. Lottery officials said that the legislation as it currently reads also will dramatically reduce revenues generated by voter-approved lotteries to fund important services like education, conservation and services for senior citizens to name a few.

"This bill creates far more problems than it actually addresses," says David Gale, Executive Director of NASPL. "The purpose of our visit is to ensure members of Congress understand the real problems this bill creates. The voters of each state should have a right to make this choice."

McIntyre commented that the proposed legislation forever puts lotteries at an extreme disadvantage moving forward and changes the ways in which lottery games are offered and played.

"The decision to offer games of chance within its own borders is that state's right to make, just as it is the right of Utah and Hawaii to make the decision not to have games of chance within their borders," says McIntyre.

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