Ten U.S. Attorney Generals Urge VP-Elect Pence to Ban Online Gambling
Ten state Attorneys General have written a letter to United States Vice President-Elect Mike Pence and President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team, calling for a full ban on internet gambling in the U.S., using the Wire Act as a vehicle to try to get this done. If you are thinking to yourself that this has been attempted before, you are correct. But with an upcoming Republican White House and likely extremely conservative Department of Justice leadership, they feel the time is right to try again.
The ten Attorneys General who signed the letter are:
- Jeff Landry – Louisiana
- Bill Schuette – Michigan
- Douglas J. Peterson – Nebraska
- Adam Paul Laxalt – Nevada
- Wayne Stenehjem – North Dakota
- Scott Pruitt – Oklahoma
- Alan Wilson – South Carolina
- Marty J. Jackley – South Dakota
- Ken Paxton – Texas
- Sean Reyes – Utah
The Wire Act was passed in 1961 to stem mob racketeering, making it illegal to place and take sports bet over telephone lines. When online gambling – including poker – became a thing, the DoJ, for whatever reason, interpreted the Wire Act to apply to not only internet sports betting (which is reasonable), but to all internet gambling, period (which his not reasonable). This interpretation was the basis for the Justice Department’s fight against online poker in the past decade.
Around Christmas of 2011, though, the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel clarified its opinion of the Wire Act, confirmed that it did, in fact, only apply to sports betting. This gave states the green light to regulate and legalize online gambling within their borders and to date, three have: New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada.
In early 2014, a similar group of AG’s signed a similar letter to Congressional Judiciary leadership. It seemed an awful lot like Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson’s crusade against online gambling and it turned out that not only was it similar, it came from Adelson himself. TheHill.com reported that Adelson’s camp wrote the letter and presented it to the AG’s.
The letter resulted in basically nothing and Adelson’s efforts to push his Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) through Congress have largely been laughed at. He did get Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah) to hold a couple hearings, but they were seen as farces.
But now with Trump’s and Pence’s election, ten AG’s are back, spouting the same fear mongering that online gambling opponents always have. It is the usual “won’t anybody think of the children” and “online gambling funds terrorism” stuff that we have seen for years.
Communities also face the significant negative impacts that accompany Internet gambling. The anonymity of the Internet offers vast opportunities for criminal activity, terrorist financing, and money laundering through online gaming sites. Online gamblers are vulnerable to fraud and identity theft, and are often left with little recourse when scammed. Some internet gambling sites have been found to use forced labor to farm currency. An Internet gambler has no means of verifying the activities of a site and could unknowingly be funding cybercriminal operations or supporting serious human rights violations. Even the sites themselves are vulnerable to hacking, which may expose a player’s personal and financial information.
Never mind that regulated online gambling has actually worked in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada and that there have been no reported instances of anyone underage being able to create accounts, nor has there ever been any evidence of online gambling funding terrorist activities.
But you know, facts are optional the anti-gambling crowd.
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