Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on multiple occasions in the last few years and even had a couple hearings in the House, but in the end, even Republicans saw it for the blatant crony capitalism that it was. The threat of a gambling ban was over. Unfortunately, the poker community is starting to get a bit worried again as the rumors have started that the Trump administration may look to get a ban going soon.
According to GamblingCompliance (sorry, there’s a paywall), “Gambling lobbyists in Washington, D.C. are abuzz with speculation that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on the verge of announcing plans to overturn the 2011 legal opinion which cleared states to regulate internet gambling.”
Sessions, who was considered too racist in 1986 for a federal judgeship (too racist in the eighties!), shared his brief thoughts on internet gambling during his confirmation hearing for his Attorney General position. He was asked about online poker by his buddy Senator Lindsey Graham, the Senator who did Daddy Adelson’s bidding and introduced RAWA in the Senate:
Lindsey Graham: About the Wire Act, what’s your view of the…Obama’s Administration’s interpretation of the Wire Act law to allow online video poker, or poker…gambling?
Jeff Sessions: Senator Graham, I was shocked at the memorandum – I guess – the enforcement memorandum that the Department of Justice issued with regard to the Wire Act and criticized it. Apparently, there is some justification or argument that can be made to support the Department of Justice’s position, but I did oppose it when it happened and it seemed to me to be an unusual….
Graham: Would you revisit it?
Sessions: I would revisit it and I would make a decision about it based on careful study and I haven’t gone that far to give you an opinion today.
And now, if the “buzz” is true, it looks like Sessions will be revisiting the 2011 clarification of the Wire Act. Remember, the Wire Act specifically prohibits sports betting over telecommunications lines, but that’s it. For whatever reason, it was interpreted for years to include all gambling, but finally at the end of 2011, the Office of Legal Counsel set the record straight. That clarification cleared the road for states to legalize intrastate online gambling. So far, Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have regulated online poker, while a few other states offer internet lottery purchases. A reinstatement of the old Wire Act interpretation would presumably kill all of this.
The odd part about the possibility of Sessions overturning the 2011 clarification of the Wire Act is that the Wire Act still says that it is only sports betting over telecommunications lines that is banned, so it seems like it would be a strange situation where the legal enforcement of the Act would clearly be based on an incorrect interpretation.
The sad part is that Sessions could easily get away with doing this, as with all the bullshit that Trump and his band of dunces are making us put up with every day, barely anybody would notice – and thus put up a fuss – if online poker was stomped out.