Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, February 06, 2012

Obama Gives Gambling a Christmas Present

Just before sneaking off to Hawaii for a Christmas vacation where he barred news photos on the golf course, President Obama overturned longstanding U.S. policy that prohibited internet gambling. Obama used a secret Justice Department opinion, dated last September and quietly released to the public on Christmas Eve. The Justice Department opinion opens the door for all U.S. states to sell lottery tickets over the internet, and to encourage varieties of online web-based gambling such as poker. Playing poker for real money has been illegal online since a 2006 law forbade financial institutions from processing funds for online wagering.

The Justice Department opinion reverses years of previous policy. It undermines the U.S. Wire Act of 1961, which up to now has prohibited all wagers via telecommunications across state lines. The Justice Department opinion invented the argument that the Wire Act applies only to bets on a "sporting event."

The Justice Department ignored the law's provision that gives prosecutors the power to shut down phone lines engaged in interstate or foreign gambling. Nevada and the District of Columbia have legalized poker within their jurisdictions. Under the Justice Department opinion, federal law can no longer stop similar forms of gambling from expanding to other states.

Many of our 50 states may look to online lotteries to solve their budget deficit problems. Once states become dependent on gambling dollars, they search for more ways to entice people to pour more money down the drain of gambling. We certainly should not let the Obama Administration get away with surreptitiously changing federal law in order to vastly expand the gambling industry.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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