Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino entrepreneur, has turned out to be quite a formidable force for pro online poker groups to deal with, especially after he launched his national coalition against online poker legalization.
Recently, the National Governors’ Association wrote to Harry Reid, the senate majority leader; Mitch McConnell, the senate minority leader; John Boehner, the speaker of the house, and Nancy Pelosi, the house minority leader, expressing their disapproval of the proposed bill to repeal the Department of Justice’s 2011 re-interpretation of the Wire Act of 1961.
The letter, which was crystal-clear and brief, made it quite clear to the addressed that the governors of various US states are worried about the bill recently introduced in assembly as it would ban online lottery sales and online gambling and affect the relationship between state and federal governments.
Pointing out that gambling regulation has always been an issue that states used to address, the letter said that, irrespective of whether individual state governors favor gambling or not, federal decisions affecting the regulatory authority of the states cannot be made without first consulting the states. The letter also spoke of the importance of developing a strong and co-operative relationship between the federal government and individual states in the best interests of US citizens.
Representative Jason Chaffetz and Senator Lindsey Graham introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act into the house as well as the senate a couple of months back. It aims to repeal the DoJ’s 2011 re-interpretation of the Wire Act. Enacted in 1961, the Wire Act states that betting on sports via wire communication, later interpreted as the Internet, is illegal.
The DoJ had maintained that the Wire Act outlaws all forms of online gambling for several years, but had announced late in 2011 that the Wire Act applies only to online sports betting, not online poker and casino gaming. The Restoration of America’s Wire Act now seeks to restore the original interpretation of the Wire Act.
The DoJ’s 2011 re-interpretation of the Wire Act has upset anti-gambling groups, especially Sheldon Adelson because it opened a floodgate of opportunities for individual US states. The first to grab these opportunities were New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, which now offer licensed and regulated online gambling sites. If the original interpretation of the Wire Act is restored, these states will be forced to shut down their online gambling sites. It will also deprive states of their right to make gambling-related decisions.