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New Hampshire Lottery Chief Opposes Internet Gambling

10 December 2010 by admin

Harry Reid_796acIf you read this blog or pay any attention to the online gambling industry, you are aware that there are efforts to legalize and regulate it in the United States at a federal level. An online poker bill is being pushed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which may pass during the lame duck session. As always, there are opponents to such legislation.

Some of the opponents are predictable, such as groups who believe that gambling is immoral and should not be allowed. Brick and mortar casinos are generally against the legislation as well, unless they are located in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Reid’s legislation gives casinos in those locations an unfair advantage over newer casinos in terms of the ability to get an online casino license.

Some state governments that oppose online gambling, such as Washington, oppose Reid’s legislation. It is believed that the federal poker bill would include an opt-out clause (which would be required for it to be constitutional), so states that don’t want to allow online gambling can choose not to participate. There is a new player in the anti-online gambling game, though: The New Hampshire Lottery.

According to the Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News, Charles McIntyre, the executive director of the New Hampshire State Lottery Commission, is against federal regulation of online gambling. “Gambling has historically been a states’ rights issue,” he said.

new-hampshire-lotteryThat is fair enough. Each state has their own gambling laws and this would be the first time the federal government creates a federal regulatory body for the industry. The problem is that, unlike in brick and mortar casinos, it’s difficult for each state to enforce different online gambling laws. With brick and mortar casinos, each casino is regulated by its local jurisdiction, regardless of who plays there. Each person who plays there does so in accordance with the local laws, regardless of the laws of where the player lives. For example, it’s perfectly legal for a resident of Washington to visit Las Vegas and play casino games. With online gambling, however, it’s difficult to track from where each player is gambling and under whose jurisdiction the transaction belongs.

Of course, states’ rights isn’t the only reason Mr. McIntyre opposes Reid’s online poker bill. He is also looking out for his own interests. As executive director of the state’s Lottery Commission, he feels threatened by the possibility of New Hampshire residents being able to gamble online. Right now, their only option is to gamble using the state lottery.

McIntyre is worried that a national online gambling industry would hurt the revenue of the Lottery Commission, which “hurts revenue to the state.” He said that due to that, “it would make sense to opt out.”

With all of the challenges facing the controversial tax cut compromise between Democrats and Republicans, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Reid will attach another controversial bill, such as his online poker bill, to the legislation. That makes it less likely that Reid will get anything passed. If it does pass, though, McIntyre will encourage state lawmakers to opt out, preserving the Lottery Commission’s monopoly on state gambling.

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