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Las Vegas Congresswoman Asks DOJ To Keep Online Gambling Legal

March 13th, 2018 Author:

Las Vegas Congresswoman Asks DOJ To Keep Online Gambling LegalOn March 6th, U.S. congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada’s 1st District wrote a letter to the federal government urging them to keep online gambling legal. The move seems to have been instigated in response to concerns aired by a number of gambling firms who have learned that the Justice Department may have been receiving propositions to reverse its 2011 reinterpretation of the Wire Act (1961).

Wire Act Of 1961

In 1961, the Federal Wire Act prohibited betting businesses from using wire communication facilities in the United States, with a threat of heavy fines or a two-year prison term for any offenders. In September 2011, however, the US Department of Justice paved the way for all types of online gambling to take place in the US, with the exception of sports betting, after concluding that “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a ‘sporting event or contest’ fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.”

In 2013, New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware subsequently took advantage of the new legal opinion by launching online gambling industries of their own, with Pennsylvania also signing legislation into law last year.

Not everyone was pleased with this new state of affairs, though, with anti-online gambling groups subsequently lobbying to have the industry banned and for the Fed Wire Act to be restored to its former interpretation.

Ongoing Battle

Donald Trump became the 45th US President on January 20, 2017, but a month before his inauguration 10 state attorney generals sent a letter to former Vice President elect Mike Pence requesting that the 2011 legal opinion concerning the Wire Act be rolled back and that online gambling be banned throughout the country. In the letter, it was argued that the initial decision was made without first holding a full debate in Congress, and so ignored the rule of law.

In response Dina Titus sent her own letter to Donald Trump and Pence on behalf of Nevada and the other regulated online gambling states, arguing that the points raised by the attorney generals’ contained glaring inaccuracies and unsubstantiated allegations against internet gambling.

On November 21, 2017, US Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) subsequently penned another letter to the DOJ urging a reversal of the 2011 Wire Act opinion, and as part of their letter asserted:

“Internet gambling takes gambling too far. It preys on children and society’s most vulnerable. The FBI has concluded that ‘online casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes,’ including money laundering and ventures by transnational organized crime groups.”

Nevada A Gold Standard

To many, Titus’s latest letter is in direct response to the one sent by Graham and Feinstein a few months ago, with the Democratic Republican explaining to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that the state of Nevada can be held up as a a prime example of an efficient regulated market providing numerous benefits for both the state and its residents. As she then explained in her letter:

“In Las Vegas, we have seen that a regulated market is always better than an illegal one. Internet gambling will not go away with a reversal of Wire Act guidance; it will merely push more consumers into black markets.”

Further examples of the benefits that a well run online gambling market can provide is apparent in New Jersey, which last year generated $245 million in online revenues, up by an impressive 25% from 2016. The online industry has also helped in turning around Atlantic City’s fortunes, which recently returned to growth after 10 years in the doldrums.

Dina Titus’s letter comes at a time when gambling markets across the USA are hoping for a positive decision from the Supreme Court concerning the right of individual states to start offering legal sports betting. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is currently challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which he sees as an unfair as Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware are exempt from the law, and allowed to offer legal sports betting products in the US.

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