Sen. Lesniak Sends AG Letter On State's Gambling Rights

This story was published more than 12 years ago.

New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stating individual state's rights when it comes to gambling laws.

The letter, which was sent in response to a letter which was sent by Congressmen Harry Reid and Jon Kyl, which asked for the Department of Justice to crack down on states who are looking to pass intrastate online gambling laws. The congressmen state that the attempts to legalize intrastate online gambling violate the Wire Act of 1961.

In Senator Lesniak's letter, he reminded Attorney General Eric Holder that states have the right to pass legislation which regulates activities within an individual state. He stated that New Jersey "...should not be impeded in any manner from exercising our rights under our state constitution and under federal law."

Lesniak also cited the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which was passed in 2006. The law states that intrastate gambling is indeed legal. Both Representatives Reid and Kyl voted for the law.

The text of the UIGEA includes the passage: "The term 'unlawful Internet gambling' does not include placing, receiving, or otherwise transmitting a bet or wager where...the bet or wager is initiated and received or otherwise made exclusively within a single State."

Striking at the letter which was sent by Reps. Reid and Kyl, Lesniak wrote to Holder, "Were you to accept Sens. Reid and Kyl's letter on its merits, you would have to prosecute the Nevada Gaming Board, which this year approved sports betting via mobile Internet within the confines of the state of Nevada. Nevada has also approved other forms of Internet and remote wagering on casino games, poker and sports within Nevada by firms like Las Vegas Sands and Station Casinos.

"For that matter, New Jersey and 37 other states would also have to be prosecuted for permitting online wagering on horse races, which has existed for years."

Earlier this year, an intrastate gambling bill was vetoed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie wants the issue voted on in a referendum by residents of the state. Senator Lesniak was crucial in seeing the bill get passed, with major support coming from state lawmakers.