Category Archives: Federal News

UPDATE: Court Strikes Down DOJ’s Wire Act Ruling – Appeal Likely to Follow

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the Department of Justice’s Wire Act interpretation as it relates to online gambling. Prior to the Obama Administration, the Wire Act was always interpreted to apply to all online gambling. During the Obama Administration, the DOJ decided the wire act only applied to sports betting, thereby legalizing all other forms of online gambling. Its been argued that their decision wasn’t grounded in the plain language and clear intent of Congress when the act was passed in the 1960’s. Never the less, it opened the floodgates to online gambling. Recently, the DOJ produced a memorandum that said they planned to reinterpret the wire act to apply to all gambling as it was for so many years prior. Naturally many groups opposed the ruling and the DOJ delayed its enforcement to allow time for the court process to take place. Now, the first ruling has been made and unsurprisingly, it upholds the Obama Administrations ruling. An online source reports:

In a memo dated June 12, 2019, US Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen instructed all US attorneys to hold off on implementing the Wire Act opinion until the end of the calendar year. The last date given had been June 14, 2019, but the decision by the US District Court last week makes any enforcement of that Wire Act opinion illegal as it pertains to any forms of gambling other than sports betting.

[E]veryone will wait to see if the DOJ decides to appeal that decision or let it stand. It is unlikely that the DOJ will not appeal, as even Judge Barbadoro fully expected the case to head to the US Supreme Court, as noted during the oral arguments phase.

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New Jersey Plans to Sue the DOJ over Online Gambling Ruling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of the DOJ’s handling of the Wire Act as it pertains to gambling over both the Obama and Trump Administration. Most recently, the DOJ announced they had gone back to the long standing interpretation of the wire act that makes all forms of online gambling, not just sports gambling as the Obama Administration claimed, are illegal. This has understandably prompted a reaction from those that have decided to promote gambling in the online space. One of the more vocal states in regard to sports and online gambling has been New Jersey and they plan to sue the DOJ if they don’t reverse their stance. An online source reports:

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney has asked the Department of Justice to rescind its new opinion on the Wire Act. And if the DOJ does not, Sweeney has indicated NJ will go to court.

Sweeney’s letter to Rosenstein followed up on his statement days after the OLC opinion was made public in which he called on Lesniak, an attorney who served in the New Jersey legislature for 40 years, to come out of retirement to help protect the online gambling and sports betting industries that he helped bring to the state.

Lesniak then wrote a letter to Sweeney outlining how New Jersey could fight the opinion, and Sweeney used some of that language verbatim in his letter to the deputy attorney general.

Lesniak, who reactivated his license to practice law in the state of New Jersey on Monday, tells Online Poker Report that he plans to wait 30 days for new *US Attorney General Bob Barr* to get up to speed on the issue before filing the complaint requested by Sweeney.

The odds seem slim that the DOJ will resend their ruling. They aren’t taking a radical stance and they are simply going back to the clear intent of Congress that stood for so many years before the Obama Administration opened the flood gates of gambling by reversing the original intent. They have also been hinting at his position change for a while, so it truly seems unlikely that they would reverse their position based on New Jersey’s position. Time will tell if they follow through, but it seems likely that they will file a motion in court. 

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Military Personnel to be Screened for Problem Gambling under new Trump Directive

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the concerns of gambling in the military. The Department of Defense actually operates gambling facilities where service personnel gamble on slot machines. A few years ago Sen. Elizabeth Warren pushed an amendment to study the issues of problem gambling saying, “If the military is going to operate gambling facilities that bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue, it also needs to ensure there is adequate prevention, treatment, and financial counseling available for service members struggling with gambling addictions.” She explained that over 36,000 service members fit the definition of problem gamblers. Now the Trump Administration has passed an initiative to screen for problem gambling during service member’s medical examinations. An online source explains: 

Members of America’s armed forces will now have to undergo screening for gambling addiction thanks to a new provision contained within the *National Defence Authorisation Act* that was signed into law by *President Trump* this week.

Section 733 of the House Armed Services Committee Report 115-874 requires the Department of Defence (DoD) to incorporate medical screening questions specific to gambling disorder in the next annual periodic health assessment conducted by the Department as well as in the Health Related Behaviours Surveys of Active-Duty and reserve component service members.

NCPG executive director *Keith Whyte* said: “Previous DoD surveys have found active duty personnel are two to three times more likely to have gambling problems than civilians. Better detection of gambling problems improves overall health and reduces social costs. Undetected gambling addiction exacerbates substance use disorders, depression and suicidal behaviour.”

He added: “NCPG strongly believes military personnel need and deserve effective gambling addiction prevention, education, treatment, enforcement, research, responsible gaming and recovery services. With the provision requiring members of the Armed Forces to be screened for gambling addiction, championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, we take a vital step to improving the lives of service members and their families.

 

 

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New Sports Betting Bill Introduced in America

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing efforts to see sports gambling expanded in the U.S. The most recent string of events has been the New Jersey legislators and Governor fighting an ongoing battle to bring sports gambling to their state. Federal Law basically prevents sports betting with the exception of a few locations that were grandfathered, namely Las Vegas. All attempts to subvert the law by New Jersey have failed, so now their approach is to move beyond individual state efforts by looking to a Federal solutions. As the discussions of sports betting continues to grow among the major sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA and MLB, New Jersey believes they are in a better position for a broad sweeping Federal gambling expansion effort. An online source explains:

“With casinos in Atlantic City closing at an alarming rate and gambling revenue in decline for a number of years New Jersey Representatives Frank LoBiondo and Frank Pallone have introduced new legislation to legalize sports betting in New Jersey and eventually across the nation.

Pallone’s proposed legislation would exempt the state from the federal prohibition on sports betting. LoBiondo’s law would introduce a four-year opportunity window which would allow every US state to introduce legislation for professional and amateur sports betting.”

Time will tell if these new efforts prove fruitful, but the fact that the major sports leagues are increasing their level of dialog on the subject, is not a good sign for those hoping to limit the impact of gambling in their jurisdictions.

 

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Florida Gov. Scott urges Congress to oppose online gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing federal and state battles regarding online gambling.  Each year it seems someone in Congress brings forth new online gambling legislation.  So far, none have been successfully passed, but an Obama Administration ruling on the federal Wire Act has opened the door for all kinds of online gambling legislation and discussion.  Earlier this year, Casino Watch Focus reported that the FBI warned of the dangers of money laundering, cheating and fraud.  This year is no different and new legislation and discussions are being advanced.  Florida Gov. Rick Scott has joined the dialog and penned a letter to Congress urging them to oppose online gambling and uphold the traditional interpretation of the Wire Act.  The Miami Herald reports:

In a letter to congressional leaders on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the governor urged Congress to clarify that the federal Wire Act bars online state lottery sales and reverse a Department of Justice ruling last year that opened the door to internet gambling.

“Allowing Internet gaming to invade the homes of every American family, and be piped into our dens, our living rooms, our workplaces, and even our kids’ bedrooms and dorm rooms is a major decision,’’ the governor wrote in the three-page letter. “We must carefully examine the short and long-term social and economic consequences before Internet gambling spreads.”

He urged Congress to “step in now and call a ‘time-out’ by restoring the decades-long interpretation of the Wire Act.”

The driving organization behind Gov. Scott and other GOP governors is the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.  They have echoed the recent FBI statements and believe it poses a very real and serious threat to families. The Miami Herald continues:

The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling warns that if these efforts are allowed, there will be little to no control over who is exposed to gambling. Children and gambling addicts could have unlimited access to games as they play in the comfort of their homes on lap tops and tablets, the group warns, and organized crime and international terrorists could use the enterprises to hide capital and launder money.

“We appreciate you consideration of our views,’’ Scott wrote, “and look forward ot working with you on developing a sensible policy that protects Americans and preserves the traditional role of the states in controlling gambling within their borders.”

A complete version of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s letter is available courtesy of the Miami Herald HERE. For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Federal Online Poker Bill Introduced

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts to legalize online gambling.  Most recently, Rep Peter King introduced a bill to allow a broad range of online gambling.  Other legislators such as Sen. Harry Reid commented that the bill would not likely move through the process and that it undermined poker only efforts.  Now, it appears that a poker only bill is being introduced.  The Las Vegas Review Journal reports:

A Texas congressman and longtime Internet poker advocate introduced legislation Thursday that would allow states and Indian tribes to legalize the activity without fear of federal intervention.

The bill, titled the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013, marks the second time Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, has tried to push federal Internet poker legislation through Congress. His 2012 attempt stalled.

In interviews after King’s bill surfaced, Barton said his belief was that a poker-only bill had a better chance of passing Congress, rather than full-blown casino wagering.

Barton’s bill would set up a federal system for regulating only online poker. Individual states could opt out of the system, if they wish.

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After Failed Federal Attempts, Online Poker Efforts to Shift from National to State Platforms

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the numerous attempts to legalize online poker, including a recent report explaining that Senator Harry Reid’s latest, yearly-attempt to legalize online poker at the national level, had failed again.  After so many failed attempts at the federal level, it looks like the new goal of the online poker lobbyists will be to focus on passing State legislations. An online source explains:

Ever since the movement for legalized online poker grew out of the threat from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act six years ago, the poker lobby’s focus has been to obtain regulation at the federal level. This focus will change in 2013 as the future of online poker in the U.S. moves to a state-by-state basis.

The proposal last year from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and now former Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) would have regulated Internet poker while prohibiting other forms of online gambling to get support from liberals and conservatives. This proposal was the best chance for legislation at the federal level. Reid’s office claims there might still be an opportunity to pass the bill this year, but passage will be difficult without Kyl in office to deliver Republican support. Poker lobbyists aren’t going to completely abandon Capitol Hill, but it’s become clear that their focus is better placed elsewhere.

For those looking to protect families from the dangers of easy access and unsecured online gambling, it would be wise to be wary of local lobbyist efforts, as they have indicated a great deal of money and resources will be spent to win on a these smaller battlegrounds.  The online source continues:

With the PPA’s focus moving to the states, expect to see more grassroots campaigns at the state level in 2013. “We certainly could mimic some of the things we’ve done at the federal level in terms of fly-ins, paid advertisements, letters to the editor, op-eds and media placements in a variety of papers throughout the states from a poker players perspective,” Pappas said. “There are a number of ways to ramp up the grassroots and activity, and we’re considering all of those.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION