New Online Gambling Ban Bill Introduced to US House

Posted on: December 13, 2016, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: December 13, 2016, 01:58h.

Representative Michael Fitzpatrick introduces RAWA like bill
Pennsylvania Republican Representative Michael Fitzpatrick believes that the online gambling sectors of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, should be torn down and declared illegal. (Image:

Pennsylvania Republican Representative Michael Fitzpatrick has introduced legislation to the US House that would ban online gambling at a federal level.

The “RAWA-esque” bill HR 6453 appeared on Capitol Hill last week, December 7, and is co-sponsored by Representative Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) and longstanding online gaming opponent, Representative Charles Dent (R-Pennsylvania).

The language of the bill may be different to RAWA, but its ultimate aim is familiar. It’s short, and it states:

The Memorandum Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, dated September 20, 2011, and pertaining to the lawfulness of proposals by Illinois and New York to use the Internet and out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to in-state adults (including the applicability of the Wire Act (18 U.S.C. 1084) and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (31 U.S.C. 5361–5367) to such proposal), does not carry the force of law and shall have no force and effect for purposes of interpreting or applying section 5362(a)(10) of title 31, United States Code.

What this Means…

The “Memorandum of Opinion” referred to is the DOJ’s declaration in 2011 that the 1961 Wire Act prohibits only remote sports betting and not poker and casino gaming.

The opinion was sought by the states of New York and Illinois in order to determine the legality of proposals to launch online lottery products, but it ultimately paved the way for New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware to legalize and regulate online poker and casino.

Ultimately HR 6453 asserts that this opinion does not carry the full force of the law and, thus, the new internet gambling sectors and online lotteries should be viewed as a violation of federal law.

Dark Clouds

It’s been coming. The dark clouds began to gather last week when ten attorney generals from states across the US wrote to petition the incoming Trump administration to impose a federal ban on online gambling.

“The risks to our citizens are real and extensive,” explained the AGs. “The ability for youth to access online gaming sites presents a significant risk to teens, a risk more easily mitigated at traditional brick-and-mortar establishments.”

Sheldon Adelson, the kingpin and chief financier of the anti-online gambling movement, is clearly eager to test the new political climate brought about by Trump’s election to office, having failed so many times in the past.

But HR 6453 is unlikely to fare any better than RAWA. In fact, its willful trammeling of state rights is one of the few issues that seems to unite Democrats and Republicans these days, and meanwhile Trump is unlikely to ban a business that foreigners are doing better at than Americans due to restrictive regulations. Unfortunately for Adelson, that’s just not Trump’s style.