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Senate bill aims to shut down US iGaming

Senator Tom Cotton (R) of Arkansas has introduced legislation in the US Senate which aims to prevent the use of financial instruments in iGaming.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and states that its aim is to “ensure the integrity of laws enacted to prevent the use of financial instruments for funding or operating online casinos are not undermined by legal opinions not carrying the force of law issued by Federal Government lawyers”.

The bill (S.3376) was introduced last week and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

It appears to be in response to the Opinion issued by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in 2011, which stated that the Wire Act of 1961 applies only to sports betting, as opposed to all wagering.

That opinion has led to the launch of regulated iGaming in the states of Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey, with other states also considering legalising and regulating the activity.

Should the bill succeed, it would prevent financial transactions between consumers and iGaming operators under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), which “prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law”.

Senator Cotton’s bill is the latest attempt to prevent regulated iGaming in the United States.

Senator Graham, a co-sponsor of this bill, introduced legislation titled the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) in June 2015. The bill was ultimately unsuccessful but sought to reverse the DoJ Opinion of 2011.

Language that sought to direct the DoJ to ban iGaming in all 50 US states was also included in the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2017. It was subsequently removed.

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