Congressman Chaffetz re-introduces federal bill to ban online gaming

5th February 2015 8:10 am GMT

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have re-introduced legislation to restore the Wire Act and institute a federal ban on online gambling.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act for the second time Wednesday, having first done so last March with identical legislation in the 113th Congress.

In an effort to reverse the Department of Justice’s 2011 decision expanding online gaming, Congressman Chaffetz said that the bipartisan legislation will restore the long-standing interpretation of the Wire Act and is a response to concerns expressed by many state Attorneys General about the impact of the DoJ decision on their states.
“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,” said Chaffetz. “We must restore the original interpretation of the Wire Act. If there is justification and support for a change, the Constitution designates Congress as the body to debate that change and set that policy.”

Congresswoman Gabbard said that Congress has the responsibility to debate these regulations openly and should not allow bureaucrats to unilaterally change the law behind closed doors.

“Until that debate takes place, Congress must restore the long-standing interpretation of the Wire Act,” she said. “The FBI and state Attorneys General from different parts of the country have raised multiple concerns about this new change. This bill restores protections against criminal activity which existed in the pre-2011 interpretation of the law.”

Utah and Hawaii remain the only two states in the US to reject all forms of gambling.

Leading poker grassroots advocacy group, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), condemned the reintroduction of the legislation which would strip states of their 10th Amendment right to regulate online gaming within their own borders, including markets already established in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

“Every Congress to consider internet gaming legislation has preserved the right of states to protect its citizens through a system that is accountable to regulators and the government,” said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. “Attempting to re-write history through a piece of legislation that prohibits states from enacting these safeguards represents the worst kind of crony capitalism that favors a mega political campaign donor over what’s in the best interest of the states and their consumers.”

Pappas said that despite the claims of opponents of state-regulated internet gaming, to date there has not been a single documented case of a minor playing on any of the state regulated sites and no report of people wagering on unauthorized sites in their state.

He also dismissed claims that regulated internet gaming is a conduit for money laundering and terrorist financing as completely false and having no backing in the real world.

“At best these claims are fear-mongering, at worst they are outright deception,” said Pappas. “As the states are proving they can effectively regulate internet poker and contribute to the economy by doing so, one might question the motives behind stopping such success.

“Americans are going to continue playing poker online, and with absolutely no consumer protections under a prohibition. If Congress is serious about protecting consumers, prohibiting states from implementing a sound regulatory framework is certainly not the answer,” added Pappas.

Campaign for Liberty, which seeks to promote and defend individual liberty, also strongly opposed the reintroduction of the bill and said that the legislation would “trample” on the US Constitution.

“The RAWA also threatens every American by handing the federal government another reason to spy on our online activities to ensure we are not gambling online,” said C4L president John Tate. “This is not just an issue that should concern those who like to gamble, but all Americans who value state sovereignty, free markets, and a free and open Internet.

“I urge Campaign for Liberty members and all Americans who value internet freedom and free markets, even if they don’t gamble, to contact their legislators and tell them to oppose the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.”

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