New Nevada Governor Sisolak Defeats iPoker Foe Adam Laxalt

Steve Sisolak Becomes New Nevada Governor

Last Tuesday, Steve Sisolak defeated Adam Laxalt to becomes Nevada’s first Democratic governor in 20 years. Following his 49.4 percent to 45.3 percent victory, Sisolak now replaces Republican Brian Sandoval as the state’s new governor, thus allowing online poker enthusiasts in Nevada to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Laxalt a Sheldon Adelson Ally

In 2013, the Silver State launched the nation’s first regulated online poker market. Adam Laxalt, however, is a staunch online poker opponent who for years has campaigned to have online gambling banned on a federal level. This includes in 2015 and 2016 signing a letter in support of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), alongside a number of other state Attorneys Generals.

It is believed Adam Laxalt, a Sheldon Adelson ally, may have become connected to the billionaire casino owner’s anti-online gambling crusade through the lobbying firm j3 Strategies. His sister, Tessa Laxalt, works at the firm and in addition to taking on her brother’s Attorney General campaign, she also handled Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) drive.

Laxalt Family Bash His Candidacy

Laxalt campaign was blighted by a general lack of endorsement for his governorship. Even the outgoing Gov. Brian Sandoval failed to lend his support to his fellow Republican runner. Furthermore, Laxalt’s own extended family were also vocal in their criticism of his candidacy, accusing him of everything from being insincere to lacking sufficient experience to head the executive branch. After losing to Sisolak by a margin of 39,283 votes, Laxalt was gracious in his concession speech, stating:

“This was all of our campaign, not just my campaign. We can certainly take heart that we left it all on the field. We fought as hard as we could. To come up short is always difficult.”

Who Is Nevada’s New Governor?

Born in Wisconsin, Steve Sisolak graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He has since lived most of his adult life in Nevada, during which time he ran a successful communications business, before in 2008 becoming the Clark County Commission Chairperson. Sisolak subsequently ran his governorship campaign on traditional Democratic values, with a strong focus on education, health care, and the economy.

Sisolak enjoyed a lead over Laxalt according to most pre-election polls. Nevertheless, the margin was slim enough to attract a great deal of attention in the run up to the November 6 mid-terms. A transition period will now takes place before Democrat Sisolak takes over from Republican Brian Sandoval as Nevada’s 31st governor. As the latter commented in a statement:

“Moving forward, my door and the doors to my staff are open to Governor-elect Sisolak and his transition team. I look forward to working with Governor-elect Sisolak in any and every way he wishes to help ensure the continued success of the new Nevada.”

Improved Online Gambling Prospects

Online poker not only remains safe in Nevada, but may experience further expansion during a Sisolak governorship. Currently, there are no other online gambling games allowed in the state, but that may all change as New Jersey’s iGambling revenues attract a greater level of interest from other states looking to pad their coffers. The potential bounty the industry may provide is likely to become even more apparent after Pennsylvania launches its own online gambling games next year.

Brian Sandoval Legacy

Brian Sandoval was a Nevada Attorney General, a chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, and a state legislator before becoming Governor in 2011. During his tenure in office, the Hispanic politician sponsored 14 bills that passed into law, including in 2013 an interstate online poker bill. As Sandoval noted at the time:

“This is an historic day for the great state of Nevada. Today I sign into law the framework that will usher in the next frontier of gaming in Nevada. This bill is critical to our state’s economy and ensures that we will continue to be the gold standard for gaming regulation.”

In 2014, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the nation’s first online gambling compact, in the process taking the tentative step towards creating a country wide online poker market. This year, New Jersey subsequently became part of the network, with Pennsylvania potentially expanding the network to four states in 2019.