Texas Governor and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry wants Congress to step in to prevent online gambling.
In a letter to Congressional leaders and the House and Senate Judiciary committees sent Monday, Perry asked Congress to reverse a 2011 Department of Justice interpretation of the Wire Act that opened the door to legalized online gambling in the states.
"Congress needs to step in now and call a 'time-out' by restoring the decades-long interpretation of the Wire Act," Perry wrote in the letter.
In an effort to stop the gambling, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) are expected to introduce a bill this week to restore the former interpretation of the Wire Act. The introduction of their bills come after heavy lobbying from GOP mega-donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who opposes the legalization of online gambling.
In his letter Monday, Perry — who received funding from Adelson during his 2007 campaign for governor — said restoring the former interpretation fo the Wire Act and reinstating the federal ban on online gambling would bolster state rights.
"When gambling occurs in the virtual world, the ability of states to determine whether the activity should be available to its citizens and under what conditions ... is left subject to the vaguaries of the technological marketplace," he said.
He urged Congress to "carefully examine the short- and long-term social and economic consequences before Internet gambling spread."
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) — who introduced a bill last year that would legalize online poker and allow each state to regulate entities offering online poker — said in a statement that Perry should support his Internet Poker Freedom Act if he's actually concerned about states' rights.
Under Barton's bill, a governor could remove his state from the interstate licensing system by sending an opt-out letter to the Commerce Secretary.
"You won’t find a piece of proposed legislation that better protects state’s rights," Barton said of his bill, noting the "protections for consumers and stops problem gamblers and underage players from having access to poker sites."
"I am confident that if people truly examine this issue they will realize that poker is the all American game — one based on skill, not chance — and people who want to play online should be allowed that right," he said.