Push for Federal Online Gambling Ban in the US Reemerges

by Jim Hall

US Department of JusticeProponents of online gambling in the US were unhappy to hear the attorney generals in several states are pushing for a federal ban on the activity once again.

After the Department of Justice decided to reinterpret the Wire Act of 1961, states in the US had the option of passing legislation to offer online gambling activities such as casino and poker games. While this move was supported by many, there were also opponents, including Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. Adelson tried his best to see online gambling stopped in the US but with no such luck. Having created anti-online gambling groups, investing millions in his efforts as well as seeing the creation of RAWA legislation, Adelson was still unsuccessful in seeing the Wire Act changed back to the previous interpretation.

Now it seems efforts have ramped back up with the incoming president and vice president elect being of the Republican Party. Reports surfaced this week that show just how attorney generals of the US are coming together to try and see online gambling stopped on a federal level.

New Efforts Emerge

While there is still a month to go before Donald Trump will take over as the president of the United States and Mike Pence will take the vice president position, opponents of online gambling are wasting no time trying to push their agenda. An official letter was sent to the transition team of Trump and Pence that was signed by ten attorneys general dated November 17th in opposition of the activity.

The letter was made public by the Poker Players Alliance this week and showed that the AGs were in favor of doing away with online gambling on a federal level. Efforts were made by the AGs to send out the letter less than two weeks after the elections in the United States ended.

In the letter, the attorneys spoke about the 2011 decision by the Department of Justice in regards to the Wire Act of 1961, which ruled that the law only applies now to sports betting. Gambling, fantasy sports and poker are in the clear. The letter, called the incident a dark night on Christmas of 2011 and that it opened the door to expansive internet gambling and exposed states in the US to the significant negative impacts that will often accompany online gambling.

The AGs continued by stating that the activity has risks that are real and extensive for citizens, citing underage gambling, identity theft, fraud, money laundering, gambling addictions and cybercriminal operations. The group of ten asked for the Trump administration to overturn the interpretation by the DOF of the Wire Act and undo the ‘dangerous precedent set by the Obama administration’ when the DOJ ignored the rule of law.

Attorney Generals of the following states signed the letter:

Notice that Nevada is on the list. The attorney general of the state, Adam Laxalt, decided to sign the letter despite the state he represents offering online poker gaming. The governor of the state was none too happy with Laxalt after his name appeared on the letter. Jon Ralston of Ralston Reports put it best when he said that the move is a slap in the face to Governor Sandoval who made a big deal of legalizing online gaming in the state as a landmark event.

Overall, the letter is an attempt at seeing all the efforts made in the online gambling industry in the US futile. It will be interesting to see if the Trump administration will respond to the letter and where their intentions lie when it comes to online gambling in the states.