The US online gambling industry has faced tumultuous times for the last decade. Where it was once widely accepted, the UIGEA of 2006 outlawed internet casinos and poker rooms up until 2011, when states were given individuals rights to legalize. Three have since chosen to do so; all the while under threat of federal legislation to reverse their rights. Now, new political powers could fuel that fire even more.
When President-elect Donald Trump was running for office, his view towards US online gambling was considered a positive one. He supported states’ rights to licence and regulate interactive wagering, and even favored sports betting legislation. That position was no surprise, as much of his fortune came from land-based casinos and hotels.
More recently, though, he seems to be getting all chummy with infamous GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp and the most influential anti-online gambling crusader in the nation. In fact, Adelson and fellow Vegas tycoon and iGaming antagonist Steve Wynn, owner of Wynn Resorts, have been chosen to help coordinate Trump’s inaugural ball come January.
That alone isn’t enough to say Trump will support Adelson’s heavily bankrolled efforts to push the Restoration of Americas Wire Act (RAWA) into the federal law books. After all, Trump has built himself up to be a very strong willed politician that won’t bow to the wishes of others. To say he supports US online gambling and sports betting, then turn around and ban them, would be out of character for Trump.
Enter Stage Right – AG Jeff Sessions
|Then again, it brings into question why he chose Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to lead up the Untied States’ legal team, handing him the pivotal position of US Attorney General. Let’s take a look at what we known about the uber-conservative Sen. Sessions.
For one, yes, he is extremely conservative, having frequented the National Journal‘s top-10 list of most conservative politicians on more occasions than I care to research for an exact figure. He was one of the first politicians to voice his opposition towards internet wagering when he vowed to co-sponsor a prohibition bill back in 1997.
He never actually did so, but he did sign his name to an amendment the following year that would have done the same thing. Since then, his opinion on the matter has been mute, but as Attorney General, he would have exclusive power to overturn the decision of the Department of Justice back in 2011 that gave states the individual right to legal and regulate online gambling.
Will Sessions Try to Ban US Online Gambling?
So the question becomes this. Did Trump choose Sessions so that he can revoke US online gambling rights, giving his buddy Adelson what he wants without getting any blood on his own hands?
Of course, the three states that already regulate iGaming – Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey – would have the right to challenge the decision in US courts. Four other states where online lottery sales are legal would also be effected by an outright ban, and would likely rise up to dispute the prohibition as well. But at the least, the previous opinion that Trump’s election would protect, if not help to expand US online gambling, is now largely uncertain.