The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) has issued its agenda for the Summer Meeting from June 9 to June 11.
Among other topical issues, the NCLGS members will discuss the use of legal marijuana in casinos. They will also get updates on online gambling legislation from states where the issue is on the legislative agenda.
As more and more states adopt some form of online gaming, whether online poker, casino or daily fantasy sports (DFS), the NCLGS is gaining in importance.
The NCLGS explains that it:
“is the only organization of state lawmakers that meets on a regular basis to discuss issues in regard to gaming. Members of NCLGS chair or are members of committees responsible for the regulation of gaming in their state legislative houses. NCLGS does not promote or oppose gaming but is primarily concerned with the proper regulation of the industry.”
As such, the issues that make it to the NCLGS meeting agendas are a good indicator of the issues that state legislators consider to be the most important at the time.
NCLGS agenda spans a wide range of contentious issues
This summer’s conference will focus on:
- Responsible gaming
- State-Federal Relations Committee on Internet Gaming
- State-Federal Relations Committee on Tribal and State Issues
On day two, there will also be two masterclasses provided by the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL).
The first will focus on the growing importance of retail gaming such as slot machines in bars. The second will examine the legal and regulatory issues arising from new forms of gambling such as DFS and skill-based gaming.
The third day of the conference will concern itself entirely with sports betting and the current momentum to pass legislation that will allow it to be licensed and regulated. In practice, the only sports betting market of any size which operates legally in the US is in Nevada.
Legal marijuana in casinos
Across the US, 26 states and the District of Columbia have laws making marijuana use legal in some form or other. Three more states likely to implement laws in 2017 — Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota.
Seven of these states together with the District of Columbia have authorized the recreational use of marijuana, including California, Massachusetts and Nevada. The California law won’t come into full effect until the beginning of 2018, however.
The NCLGS agenda item on casinos will be largely devoted to the impact of these laws on casinos. The discussion will center around:
- The issues of medical vs. recreational use
- The application of current regulations
- The segregation of smoking lounges
- Gambling licensees investing in marijuana industry
- The issue of state law vs. federal enforcement
Online gambling legislation
The NCLGS has produced its own template for online gambling regulation as a guide for any states considering the issue.
More than just a guide, the NCLGS regulatory model aims to provide consistency of regulation across the US. When there is legal compatibility of online gambling legislation, it becomes easier for states to enter into interstate compacts to share player pools for games such as online poker.
The big issue raised by state lawmakers which has made it on to the agenda for internet gaming is how the new Trump administration will treat the Wire Act.
A Wire Act reinterpretation threatens existing state-regulated online gambling
The current situation where Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware all offer state-regulated online gaming to their residents was enabled after the DOJ issued its interpretation that the Wire Act prohibitions only applied to sports betting.
If the Trump administration DOJ goes back on that interpretation, which has not been tested in the courts, then the online gambling industry in all three states is under threat—including online lotteries.
The possibility of a reinterpretation is still very low, but its consequences would be far-reaching.
The issue cuts into the larger issue of states’ rights under the 10th Amendment. Therefore it raises the hackles of politicians who have only a minimal interest in online gaming.
The internet gaming session will also cover progress towards legislation from the states where the issue is on the political agenda. Updates will be provided by California, Pennsylvania, and some of the other states considering legislation.
The debate on proposed legislation will further be informed by presentations on the lessons learned from the existing regulation in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada.
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