Anti-Online Gambling Bill Submitted to Congress via PA Representative

by Jim Hall

The efforts for anti-online gambling in the United States seem to be back in full force with a representative of Pennsylvania now introducing legislation for a federal ban of casino and poker activity.

Online gambling has been legally acceptable in the United States since 2011 when the Department of Justice ruled that the Wire Act of 1961 was reinterpreted. By 2013, states began to pass legislation to offer casino or poker gaming online, and now Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey have strong online gambling industries. Other states have shown interest but none have been able to pass a bill to begin offering the gaming options.

Throughout the process, opponents of the activity have tried hard to stop the industry on a federal level. A big opponent of online gaming is Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands. Bills were created to try and stop the gaming such as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act along with groups to try and get the word out to get legislators as well as the public on the anti-online gambling bandwagon. Adelson has spent millions of dollars in efforts to stop the activity from taking place. Now it seems these efforts have been ramped back up and now a representative from Pennsylvania has filed a bill that would federally ban the activity from taking place in every state.

The New Bill

Michael FitzpatrickThe new anti-online gambling legislation was introduced by Pennsylvania Representative Michael Fitzpatrick with the title HR 6453. The bill was created to provide clarification of the opinion by the Department of Justice from 2011 in regards to the Wire Act. If the bill were to be passed, the end result would be a ban of online gambling across the nation. The already established online gambling industries would be stopped while other states would have no chance to start, stopping all legislative efforts in their tracks.

The wording of the bill says that the opinion by the DOJ should not have the force of law. Fitpatrick would like to see Congress declare that the opinion does not carry the force of the law and that it has no effect for purposes of applying or interpreting the online gambling provisions involved within the UIGEA of 2006.

The measure has now been referred to the House Committee of Financial Services as well as the House Committee on the Judiciary. With two sponsors, the bill has some support and still may garner support from others who have shown to be against online gambling in the past. Representatives Charlie Dent and Bobby Rush have both put their names behind the measure.

Is Adelson to Blame?

It has been suggested that the bill was presented by Fitzpatrick to try and please Sheldon Adelson, a known opponent of online gambling. Calvin Ayre’s Peter Amsel has made the suggestion that Fitzpatrick created the bill to please Adelson as the Representative hopes to move ahead politically and feels that contributions by Adelson will help him to do so.

We know that Adelson has used his position as well as money to try and see an anti-online gambling ban created in the US. So this is not an unlikely suggestion. However, we have seen such legislation as RAWA stopped in its tracks so it is guaranteed that any such legislation will be successful.

Bills have been supported by Representative Jason Chaffetz and Senator Linsey Graham in the past that were unsuccessful in banning online poker and casino gaming federally and this same bill may prove to be just as unsuccessful. Opponents of the gaming option seem to be hoping that the incoming republican presidency will see changes made to legislation to put a stop to such activities.