McKinney Applauds Rejection of Online Gambling Proposal

February 2, 2012

Hartford, CT – State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield), a leading opponent of efforts to legalize online gambling in the state of Connecticut, today applauded the Public Safety and Security Committee for deciding not to submit legislation that would legalize online gambling this session. Further, committee co-chair Representative Steve Dargan also confirmed today what Senator McKinney predicted yesterday; that the Malloy administration has reversed itself and no longer intends to submit a bill of its own.

“I don’t believe that putting a 24/7 electronic casino in every house in CT so the government can profit from it is the way to solve our budget crisis. I am pleased that the Public Safety Committee and the Malloy administration will not be submitting legislation to legalize online gambling this year,” said Senator McKinney. “State government needs to refocus on policies that will promote real economic growth. We need to shrink the size of government, tackle real pension and employee benefit reform, and stop attacking businesses with new mandates and bad policy.”

Senator McKinney who participated as an ex-officio member in today’s Public Safety and Security Informational Hearing was glad to hear that the Attorney General’s office agreed with his assessment that:

1.CT law prohibits Internet gambling and nothing in the DOJ opinion changes CT law – Legalizing Internet gambling in CT would require that the legislature amend its statutes to BOTH (1) make it legal under CT law and (2) comply with federal requirements.

2.The Opinion was limited to the federal Wire Act and other federal criminal laws would continue to make it a federal crime for any business to offer Internet gambling to CT residents in violation of state law.

3.Federal authorities are currently prosecuting and have promised to continue to prosecute any Internet gambling businesses that operate in violation of state law.

4.The opinion would not allow another state to authorize Internet gambling targeted at CT residents.

5.The Indian compacts present a unique problem for CT and would likely prohibit the state from allowing other non tribal entities from offering Internet gambling in CT.

The Senator was also glad to hear that the Indian tribes agreed with all of these points as well and further agreed that (1) the mechanisms exist to screen and block illegal Internet gambling transactions and (2) the best way to push illegal Internet gambling businesses out of CT is to increase the penalties and enforcement.

While not addressing the legal impediments to allowing only the tribes to offer Internet gambling in CT, under established legal precedent such a scheme would likely be a violation of the Commerce Clause because it would discriminate against out of state interests.

Therefore, CT finds itself between a rock and a hard place – If we open the state up to unlimited Internet gambling it would violate the Indian casino compacts and be a net loss for the state. However, we cannot legally limit it to just these two in state entities.

All of this proves that the best course for CT is to enforce the laws we already have on the books that prohibit Internet gambling and focus our efforts on truly building CT’s economy.