Online gambling the target of new legislation

Internet gambling would be criminalized under new bipartisan legislation in the House.

Reps. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzChaplain controversy shifts spotlight to rising GOP star Ingraham’s ratings spike a wake-up for advertisers Boehner to campaign for House GOP candidates MORE (R-Utah) and Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardPavlich: Media gives Hamas exactly what they want Overnight Defense: House panel passes 6B defense bill | What's in the bill and what didn't make the cut | Pentagon details 'failures' in Niger operation | Trump, Kim meeting set Policy issues take center stage as House panel passes 6B defense authorization bill MORE (D-Hawaii) this week reintroduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.

The bill would target all forms of online gambling by reversing a controversial ruling from the Department of Justice.

This is the second time Chaffetz has introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act. The bill failed to gain traction in the last Congress and did not advance past the committee level.

The Wire Act was established long before the Internet existed, in 1961, to prohibit interstate gambling, but it later evolved to cover wagers placed online.

The Justice Department reinterpreted the rule in 2011 to allow most forms of online gabling, except sports betting, which is still illegal in most places.

This didn’t sit well with some lawmakers. Chaffetz accuses the DOJ of going around Congress by refusing to enforce the law.

Many governors and state attorneys general have also challenged the DOJ’s decision to allow online gambling.

“In yet another example of executive branch overreach, the DOJ crossed the line by making what amounts to a massive policy change without debate or input from the people or their representatives,” Chaffetz said in a statement. 

“If there is justification and support for a change, the Constitution designates Congress as the body to debate that change and set that policy,” he added.

But proponents of online gambling say this is a ploy by casinos to lock down the competition from up-and-coming websites.

“Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has relentlessly twisted the arms of members of Congress to pass an ill-conceived ban on Internet gaming,” said Alison Siciliano, with the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection.

Advocates argue that criminalizing online gambling will only push it “into the shadows” and leave consumers who participate at greater risk.

“An online gaming ban will not only drive an existing black market further into the shadows, but will put consumers and children at even greater risk,” Siciliano said.