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 Graham2020 hopefuls skeptical of criminal justice deal with Trump Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Graham: Flynn should lose security clearance MORE (R-S.C.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDems to challenge Kavanaugh for White House records Democrats question if Kavanaugh lied about work on terrorism policy Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints 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.” 

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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 SessionsSantorum: Mueller could avoid charges of McCarthyism by investigating DOJ, FBI 8,000 new ways the Trump administration is undermining immigration court independence Watergate's John Dean rips Trump: I doubt you have any idea what McGahn told Mueller 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."