Sessions’ abstention gives hope for online gaming liberalisation

7 Jul 2017

online gaming liberalisationJeff Sessions, the US attorney general and Alabama senator is considered one of the biggest advocates against the online gambling liberalisation in the USA. He has long held these views as in 2011 he had criticised the decision of Department of Justice, when states were allowed to create their own laws about gambling.

Sessions has decided to abstain on any decision to create a federal ban on online gambling. This decision was accepted with relief from the gambling industry and the numerous supporters of states’ rights.

However, this decision was not taken out of the blue, as Sessions’ close links with casino lobby were recently revealed.

An enormous mistake of “The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling” (a lobby group led by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson) led to that revelation.

This lobby hired a lawyer, Charles Cooper, that tried to lobby the Justice Department into interpreting the 1961 Wire Act as a federal ban of internet gambling.

Following that, the Alabama Senator also hired the same lawyer in the investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential elections. Sheldon Adelson appears to have been mentioned as “Sessions’ longtime friend and counsel”.

This double-hiring forced Sessions to withdraw from the online gambling liberation issue.

In 2011, the Justice Department reinterpreted the Federal Wire Act of 1961 and decided the exemption of all “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a sporting event or contest” from the Wire Act.

This meant that states had been free to decide how they regulate online gaming laws during the past six years and had also triggered a surprised Sessions’ reaction, going ahead into declaring he was shocked by this.

Unlike Sessions, Laurence Vance, a policy advisor for the Future of Freedom Foundation said: “The US national government has been delegated by the Constitution no authority whatsoever to legislate, regulate, monitor or dictate to the states anything related to gambling. Gambling was not unknown to the Framers of the Constitution. It has been around in various forms for thousands of years. The absence of any mention of gambling in the Constitution was therefore deliberate”.  

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