November 15, 2021
CARSON CITY — The vision of Nevada casinos of finding a new bonanza by using the Internet to accept bets from other states and foreign countries may have been shot down by the Justice Department.
The Justice Department has issued an advisory opinion that the federal wire act prohibits communications across state lines or to foreign counties for placing bets.
Chairman Dennis Neilander of the state Gaming Control Board said Thursday the opinion reaffirms the long-held opinion of the Justice Department. The Clinton administration had opposed Internet gambling, and Nevada wanted to see if the Bush Administration held the same position, Neilander said.
At the urging of Las Vegas casinos, the 2001 Legislature authorized Internet gambling in hopes of expanding revenue coming into the state. But there has always been a question whether that would violate federal law.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Michael Chernoff told Neilander in a letter dated Aug. 23: “As set forth in prior congressional testimony, the Department of Justice believes that federal law prohibits gambling over the Internet, including casino-style UFABet gambling.”
Bill Bible, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said this opinion was not unexpected.
While he was a member of the National Gambling Commission, Bible said, the Justice Department held that view.
He said the industry approached the Legislature to get clearance in case the federal government changed its mind so that Nevada casinos would not be left “in the dust,” he said.
Bible said there are bills in Congress that seek to clarify the law. He said he expected the federal law to be clarified by the courts, where several cases are pending.
The control board has delayed any action on Internet gambling until it gets a clear picture of what the Department of …