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Nevada Officials Oppose IHRA

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor

            Online gamblers are shocked to learn that Nevada officials have already stated their opposition to Representative Jim McDermott’s Investing in our Human Resources Act of 2008, despite the state potential to pull over $300 million in online casino gambling taxes.

            According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, McDermott has provided statistics from a PricewaterhouseCoopers study that shows that the IHRA would generate $40 billion for the U.S. over the next ten years, the revenue from which would be put toward job training and educational assistance for foster care youth. The bill was presented as an alteration of his previously proposed bill that calls for the Department of Treasury to tax, license and regulate online casinos and other forms of internet gambling. The motivation behind the more recent proposal is invest the money into much need social security reform, and to justify the legislation to anti-gamers.

            “The gamblers want it; the poker players want it because they want a system in the United States, run in the United States, governed by our laws rather than floating out there in the world of the Internet,” said McDermott. Many non-gamblers agree that the revenue could be put toward vital government aid.The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Nevada officials, the least expected to oppose the bill, are not supportive of this new proposal. According to Representative Jon Porter, a Republican of Nevada, the bill would “set a harmful precedent.” Porter had previously suggested that studies for online gambling legislation be conducted. Many Nevada officials agree that the legislation is a “frivolous attack on the gaming community to pay for services that local governments, states and the federal government should already be providing.” The problem with this logic, however, is that the government is already struggling to finance housing, job training and educational aid and other forms of social security. The U.S. is facing a trillion dollar deficit and is running out of much needed resources for such programs.  


Democratic Nevada Representative, Shelley Berkley, who also advocates for a one-year study of internet gambling, calls the new bill “a classic case of putting the cart before the horse.” The American Gaming Association, supporting Nevada land casinos and Berkley’s bill in favor of gaming research, claim that McDermott’s bill would “seem to be at odds with one of the core principles of the AGA, which is to protect states’ rights to individually tax and regulate gambling.”

McDermott disagreed. “My experience has been that, generally, studies are a way of wasting a year,” he said, “We need the money. We know what the issue is.” He went on to explain that his proposal is meant to supplement Barney Frank’s H.R. 2046 which calls for the regulation of online casinos. “Without his bill, my bill doesn’t go anywhere.”

Because McDermott does not expect that his bill will pass through the next series of committees, he has announced that he is prepared to re-introduce the bill in 2009. While it is unlikely that officials will move to regulate online casino gambling anytime soon, it is thought that perhaps putting the revenue to practical use might sway the decision.