Senators push DOJ on online gambling ban

A group of senators want the Justice Department’s help to ban online gambling.

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In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week, three senators are asking the agency to support their bill that would reinstate a federal ban on online gambling.

“We must act before we find virtual casinos making gambling pervasive in our society, invading living rooms, bedrooms, and dorm rooms across the country; a result we know the DOJ does not want to see,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who earlier this year introduced a bill that would overturn a 2011 DOJ opinion that opened the door to online gambling.

In 2011, the Justice Department reinterpreted the Wire Act to ban only sports betting. Since that ruling, three states have legalized online gambling.

In March, Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced a bill — backed by GOP megadonor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — to restore the pre-2011 DOJ interpretation of the Wire Act.

In their letter this week, the senators wanted that the 2011 ruling if “left on its own, … could usher in the most fundamental change in gambling in our lifetimes by turning every smart phone, tablet, and personal computer in our country into a casino available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

They asked Holder to support the bill to keep online gambling from opening “the door to money laundering and other criminal activity” as well as hurting “children and society’s most vulnerable.”

The senators told Holder that they “fully expect the Senate will act on our legislation this year.”

“With your help, and the backing of the DOJ, we are confident we can succeed in this effort,” they said.