Senators press for deputy AG to review online gambling opinion

Senators press for deputy AG to review online gambling opinion
© Greg Nash

Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (R-S.C.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinLawmakers feel pressure on guns Feinstein: Trump must urge GOP to pass bump stock ban Florida lawmakers reject motion to consider bill that would ban assault rifles MORE (D-Calif.) are pushing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to take action and reverse a 2011 Department of Justice opinion that changed the agency’s long-held understanding that online gambling is prohibited under federal law.

In a letter to Rosenstein last week, Graham and Feinstein noted that the department had interpreted the 1961 Wire Act as prohibiting online gambling up until the 2011 decision from the agency’s Office of Legal Counsel, which said the Wire Act only applies to sports betting.  

“Internet gambling takes gambling too far,” they wrote. “It preys on children and society’s most vulnerable.” 

As senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham and Feinstein said they are particularly concerned with whether the FBI has the resources to effectively oversee a robust internet gambling industry. 

The senators said they warned in 2011 that allowing online gambling could turn every smartphone, tablet and personal computer into an around-the-clock casino.

“Online casinos are already opening across state lines pursuant to compacts and states are contemplating opening up their online casinos to foreign markets,” they wrote.

“We fear that unless DOJ promptly revisits its 2011 opinion, our prediction that online casinos could sweep across our country could come to pass.”

Feinstein and Graham also wrote to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Overnight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand MORE in May urging him to restore the department’s practice of enforcing the Wire Act against online gambling.

During his confirmation hearings, Sessions questioned the opinion and promised to take a look at it. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) also wrote Sessions in July urging him to reverse the opinion.

"Concerns about the proliferation of online gambling are bipartisan and span the political spectrum," Feinstein and Graham wrote in their letter last week.

"The 2011 DOJ opinion needs to be revisited and withdrawn, with the question of whether online casinos should be permitted in the United States properly returned to Congress to determine."