With Jeff Sessions as the new United States Attorney General, should online gamblers and operators be worried?
Over the past few months, proponents of online gambling have begun to worry about the state of affairs in the United States. With a new Attorney General in place, changes could be afoot that would harm the potential for additional states to become involved in online casino and poker gaming, among other activities like the lottery and daily fantasy sports. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are the only states that currently have the ability to offer such activity online for real money but many other states are looking in to legalizing their own industry. Will the new United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions stand in their way?
Rumors have been making their way around the media as of late and show the potential for a negative outcome when it comes to online gambling in the US. Sessions apparently is seriously considering banning online gaming on a federal level, something that others have tried in the past. The news first broke via Gambling Compliance in an article showing concern about Sessions plans as AG.
Concern has been ongoing for some time as the United States saw a new president take the helm. It was reported that Donald Trump was heavily supported by Sheldon Adelson, the owner of the Las Vegas Sands company as well as a strong anti-online gambling advocate. Adelson reportedly spent $11.2 million towards Trumps campaign and $5 million more for the inauguration. This is a ridiculous amount of money and might spur Trump to push for an online gambling ban as payback.
However, the main concern seems to be that Sessions will attack online gambling’s legal status by making changes to the 1961 Wire Act. In 2011, the Department of Justice decided to view the Act in a different manner, which allowed online gambling to take place in the US if individual states passed legislation. Sports betting is still prohibited.
During his AG Confirmation hearing, Sessions stated that he was ‘shocked’ to see the decision by the DOJ in the reinterpretation of the Wire Act which led proponents to believe that he would be in opposition and might try something to see changes take place yet again.
During the hearing, Sessions stated:
Now, it is basically a waiting game to see what will happen. Will Sessions take a step in the backwards direction and make changes to the DOJ decision from 2011? Will the states that already have online gaming in place lose what they have worked so hard to accomplish? New Jersey just recently enjoyed a record month of earnings with the money generated needed in the state. Will other states lose out on trying to offer such gaming options after months or possibly years of discussions? Only time will tell if the states that want to offer or already offer online gaming will be affected by any decision made by Sessions in the future.
It does seem that Sessions opinion is against what Donald Trump has said about online gambling in the past. Trump is no stranger to the gambling industry and has stated in the past that online gambling must happen as other countries are doing it and the US is missing out. So now we will see if Trump will stay on board or if Sessions will stick to the conservative route and decide to make changes that will not bode well for the online gambling industry of the US.