Language that would
direct the US Department of Justice to ban internet gambling in all 50 states
has made a surprise appearance in the department’s 2017 appropriations bill.
The internet gambling
reference has sneaked into the Departments of Commerce and Justice,
Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2017, which is currently
before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
According to a
committee spokesperson, the language was inserted at the request of Senator
Lindsey Graham, a member of the committee and long-time supporter of casino
magnate Sheldon Adelson’s attempts to shut down online gaming in the United
Similar to the
language used in the failed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the DOJ
appropriations bill states: “Since 1961, the Wire Act has prohibited nearly all
forms of gambling over interstate wires, including the Internet. However,
beginning in 2011, certain States began to permit Internet gambling. The
Committee notes that the Wire Act did not change in 2011. The Committee also
notes that the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that ‘‘criminal
laws are for courts, not for the Government, to construe.’’ Abramski v. U.S.,
134 S.Ct. 2259, 2274 (2014)”.
It accompanies the
committee recommendation that the Justice cybersecurity budget be increased by
$10.6m to $50.0m.
candidate Graham has attracted a great deal of criticism for repeatedly attempting
to usurp states’ rights to set their own gambling policies and for attempting
to transfer that authority to the federal government.
legislation in 2014 to ban internet gambling, and again in 2015, failing both
times to gather any significant support among lawmakers.
Commenting at the time
on Graham’s 2015 attempt, Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas
said: “In 2014, following private meetings between billionaire casino mogul
Sheldon Adelson and Senator Lindsey Graham and several Adelson-sponsored
fundraising events, Senator Graham introduced similar legislation to ban
states’ from authorizing internet gambling within their own borders.”
power over politicians, especially those running for president, is significant,
but Congress must show it is stronger,” he said.
It is hoped that now
that the insertion of the language has come to light, the committee will take
steps to remove it before the appropriations bill is passed.