Are the Stars Aligning for Online Gambling Ban in the US?

by Jim Hall

The current lame duck Congress may have a negative effect on the online gambling industry in the US as legislation could be passed that restores the 1961 Wire Act, effectively banning online gambling across the board.

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner, has tried his very best to see online gambling banned on a federal level in the United States. From creating his own group to funding efforts and creating the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, Adelson has had his hand in several areas to try and ban internet gambling as a whole. It seems that Adelson’s efforts may finally pay off after years of trying with a Republican-led White House as well as the current lame duck Congress.

What Could Change?

The current lame duck Congress could see the passage of legislation that would essentially restore the 1961 Wire Act to its formal definition instead of the changes made by the Department of Justice in 2011. The changes made allowed states to create legislation in an effort to offer online poker and casino gaming as they so choose. Currently, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware offer such activities for real money online. If such changes were to take place, the restoration of the Wire Act, then it would certainly see lawsuits filed by the state who already offer such activities and are trying to build successful industries.

Those who are opposed to the ban have argued that any prohibition will be against the rights of the state as well as establish a terrible precedent. On top of the possible changes to the Wire Act decision, there is a spending bill currently in Congress that may get a vote before 2016 ends. This bill could be a way that prohibition of online gambling is introduced.

Jeff SessionsJeff Sessions has been named the United States Attorney General and a Senator of Alabama. Sessions has long been opposed to gambling and could use his position as the US Attorney General to change the Wire Act back via the DOJ. The Obama administration was the one to make the changes via the DOJ that allows for the activity to be legalized and regulated on a state to state basis.

On top of this, just a few weeks ago, ten Attorney Generals signed a letter to the president-elect and vice president-elect asking them to restore the Wire Act. All of these actions could come together and see a blossoming industry revert back to nothing.

Adelson Spending a Ton of Cash

Adelson has used his billionaire status to help fund efforts to see online gambling banned in the United States. The mogul has spent nine figures supporting republican campaigns in years gone by as well as to see legislation created that would prohibit online casino games from being played online. Adelson has used his money to gain support and then calls for favors from his legislative buddies after paying for their republican campaigns.

Those who Adelson has supported and those who show him support in efforts to block online gambling include: Mike Lee, Tom Cotton, Charlie Dent, Lindsey Graham and Jason Chaffetz, all congressmen. In the past, Adelson has stated that he will spend whatever it takes to be able to see the law changed.

On the bright side, stand-alone legislation for a prohibition has yet to be successful. The last hearing to take place on the matter was about a year ago and any attempts have been thwarted. The hope is that proponents will be able to prove their case and legislators will not create a law that will ban such activities from taking place. We shall see in the coming months just what will happen in regards to online gambling in the US.