After PA Gambling Passed, RAWA Lawmakers Got All Riled Up Again

Written By J.R. Duren on December 13, 2017 - Last Updated on April 16, 2020
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[toc]It’s inevitable that states who expand gambling will make enemies.

Pennsylvania did just that when it passed its massive PA gambling bill, a package that included the introduction of online gambling. As big-name operators prepare to launch sites (eventually) in the state, prestigious senators Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham asked the Department of Justice to allow Congress to revisit online gambling in what amounts to a plea to outlaw it.

Their petition came via letter, signed by both, and including the following text:

“Internet gambling takes gambling too far. It preys on children and society’s most vulnerable … Of particular concern to us, as senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is whether the FBI has the resources to effectively oversee a robust internet gambling industry to assure online casinos are not being used for criminal activities, and to protect the interests of states that prohibit internet gambling.”

Arguments from senators focus on various laws and rulings

Both senators argued that, for five decades, the Wire Act prohibited online gambling. Then, a 2011 opinion by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel paving the way for future online gambling pretty much ruined Congress’ efforts to ward off internet gambling.

Amid several references to the amount of time it took Congress to carefully consider anti-online gambling legislation, the senators referred to Pennsylvania’s gambling expansion as a sign that the online gambling revolution they warned of years ago was ready to descend on the country like plague.

They also alluded to inter-state player pooling and the possibility of international player pooling as another sign that online gambling was gaining steam.

Another excerpt from the letter:

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 The 2011 DOJ opinion needs to be revisited and withdrawn.”

They closed the letter asking that the matter of online gambling rest with Congress so lawmakers can decide what’s best for the nation.

Call for bans on online gambling stands against recent developments

Their plea comes at an interesting time. Oral arguments for the repeal of the Profession and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) took place on Dec. 4 before the Supreme Court of the United States. Many industry experts and at least one national independent poll suggest that SCOTUS will rule in favor of New Jersey, effectively ending the federal “ban” on sports betting and allowing states to determine their own legislation.

In addition to this ongoing case, other evidence from the Washington Post indicates that the general public is in favor of sports betting for the first time since PASPA froze state laws on sports betting in 1993.

The SCOTUS case and shifting opinions about sports betting seem to indicate that the United States is becoming more friendly to gambling of all types, making it odd that the senators are pushing back against a rising tide of gambling that doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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