Proposed Bill Looks to Kill Internet Gambling in the US – Even in Those States Where It Is Legal

A current piece of legislation threatens to outlaw all Internet gambling in the United States … even in those states where it is already legal. It took several changes in legislation to deliver the current legal online gambling entity we enjoy in the United States. A Department of Justice consideration that casino and poker games should not be bound by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 means that each individual US state can decide whether or not it wants to offer those forms of Internet gambling to its citizens and visitors. Actually created as a Title VIII addition to the Safe Port Act which was concerned with US port security, the UIGEA legislation now currently applies to just Internet sports gambling in the United States. But there are those legislators in the US which want to outlaw Internet gambling altogether.

Representative Jason Chaffetz is a Utah Republican that presented a bill on Wednesday, March 26, which seeks to restore an old federal policy that declared all gambling over the Internet as illegal. And he is not alone in his efforts. Senators Kelly Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham, also a Republican in South Carolina, and Mike Lee, anther Utah Republican, are co-sponsoring this bill. On the other side of the issue, there are two current pieces of federal legislation which are pro-gambling, hoping to legalize Internet gambling nationwide as opposed to on a state-by-state basis. This all began with the 1961 Interstate Wire Act, also called the Federal Wire Act, which outlaws companies “engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly using a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers.” This was later seen to apply to Internet casino and poker, as well as sports wagering.

Then the DOJ reversed its opinion in December of 2011 concerning the scope of the Wire Act, stating that, “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a ‘sporting event or contest’ fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.” This opened the way for New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada to begin offering legal Internet poker and casino options for their residents. The only stipulations regard where you are located. You must be physically inside the border of those three states to enjoy the new and frequently changing Internet gambling industry in the US. There are also legal offshore companies which have been licensed to deliver legitimate Internet sports gambling, casino and poker. By obtaining industry recognized certification in reputable online gambling jurisdictions around the world, these companies support US citizens as well as international wagerers.

US states like the three which have already passed state-sponsored Internet gambling prefer to keep valuable revenue at home, rather than see it head to international operators. But Representative Jason Chaffetz and the Senators which support his bill mentioned several factors which lead them to believe Internet gambling needs to be outlawed in the US. He pointed to potential money laundering, as well as access by youngsters and problem gamblers, as just a few of the negative impacts they believe Internet gambling offers. Utah is one of only two states, Hawaii being the other, that do not offer any form of legalized gambling. And this newly sponsored piece of legislation intentionally does not include a grandfather clause for Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. That means passage would immediately halt online real money gaming in those states.

California and Pennsylvania are very close to passing some type of Internet gambling. There are also at least eight other states aggressively pushing for Internet gambling. And to show support of his state’s current online poker industry, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said the bill was unwelcome at the very least. He pointed out that gaming regulation should be the responsibility of state governments, and not federal legislators. He went on to point out that Nevada has been the worldwide gambling epicenter, and that they have responsibly regulated gambling “for decades.” Moving forward, as this legislation and others are voted upon, we will keep you informed here as soon as any changes take place to the currently online gambling-friendly legal atmosphere in the United States.