Industry Reports

Department of Justice’s Decision to Legalize Online Gambling Awakens Senatorial Opposition

The 2011 Department of Justice’s decision on the Federal Wire Act that allowed the individual US states to legalize the provision of online gambling services created an unabating buzz. According to the latest news, two members of the Senate warned about the hidden threat of gambling-related issues and asked the Department of Justice to reverse its legal opinion on the matter.

The fight for the legalization of the online gambling industry in the US got a big boost after many states realized that the iGaming is a proliferating business, which can bring fresh money in the local economy. Some time ago, Casino Reports produced an article regarding the US’ intricate legal framework regarding online gambling. Online gambling is not fully regulated in the US, but the individual states have the right to legalize or disallow the provision of this type of services. However, the US gambling law is subjected to three sets of regulation, including local, state and federal.

The Interstate Wire Act that passed in 1961 is part of the federal online gambling regulations. In December 2011, the Department of Justice changed its stance on online gambling, allowing the individual states to legalize online gambling. Six years ago, the Department of Justice announced that the 1961 Federal Wire Act applies to sports betting, but not to online gambling. Some states immediately took actions and started to consider the regulation of online lottery sales and online gambling. As for now, there are 4 states, which managed to benefit from their right and legalize the provision of online gambling services. These include Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Reasons Against Department of Justice’s Legal Opinion

The bombshell ruffled the feathers of many officials, who explained that most of the social ills stem from gambling-related issues. According to the latest news, senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein are urging the Department of Justice to withdraw its decision as the vulnerable people will be the victims to the gambling industry. In a letter, dated 21st November, the two senators pointed out that the gambling industry is targeting even minors.

Among all other things, the two officials recommended that the decision of whether online casinos should be permitted in the US should be under the jurisdiction of the Congress. They added that the FBI might lack the needed resources to oversee such a rapidly-growing business. Being a cash-intensive business, the online gambling industry is an easy prey for wrongdoers.

Earlier this year, the two Senators sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking the official to bring back the department’s old practice of applying the Wire Act against the online gambling. It is interesting to mention that the interpretation of the Interstate Wire Act is a confusing task, as it is passed more than 50 years ago, when the Internet did not exist, what is left for online gambling casinos. What is more is that the language in the law is quite confusing and it lacks the needed specificity.