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Pence and Sessions Should Oppose a Ban on Internet Gambling

By Andreas Hellmann | January 12, 2017

Eight free-market groups urged Vice President-Elect Mike Pence and U.S. Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions to reject calls to ban online gambling using a pre-Internet 1961 law. 

The issue was raised on Wednesday this week by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) during the Senate confirmation hearing for Sessions.

The current action is to interpret the Federal Wire Act as creating a de facto prohibition on Internet gambling. Although prior administrations have chosen to interpret the Wire Act as creating a de facto prohibition on Internet gambling, this was clearly not the intent of Congress when it was enacted in 1961. Rather, the Wire Act only references bets and wagers on sporting events or other contests.

“Regulatory intervention now from the U.S. Department of Justice would represent a true violation of the legislative process” and undermine the rights and flexibility states now have to collect revenue from in-state commerce and set policies that reflect the interests of their own constituents. “Today, it’s online gambling, but in the future it might be gun and ammunition sales targeted by Congress or an over-zealous executive branch,” the letter warns.

“Most importantly, creating a de facto prohibition on legal Internet gambling will not protect consumers. Rather, it would eliminate consumer protections put in place by the states that have chosen to regulate online gambling and ultimately force people into the black market.”

"State Legislatures are just as capable of regulating online gambling as they are of regulating casinos. If a state does not want online gambling happening within its borders is is free to prevent that activity (there's an Ap for that).  There is no reason for the federal government to step in." 

Letter co-signers include: Competitive Enterprise Institute, Digital Liberty, Institute for Liberty, Campaign for Liberty, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Institute for Policy Innovation, and the Rio Grande Foundation.

You can read the full letter here.


Photo credit: Flickr