Texas Governor Calls For Reversal of December 2011 Wire Act Memo

Staff March 24, 2014 549 Reads

The latest round of political spin against legalized iGaming has begun. Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling published a letter from Texas Governor Rick Perry on Monday in support of reversing the DOJ’s December 2011 opinion on the Wire Act. The letter was addressed to members of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

Gov. Perry with stating that regulation of gambling should remain a state issue but “the ability to determine whether the activity should be available to its citizens and under what conditions – and to control the activity accordingly – is left subject to the vagaries of the technological marketplace. This seriously compromises the ability of states to control gambling within their borders.”

Gov Perry then transitions into talking about how the Wire Act was used for decades to prohibit all forms of internet gambling. He then proceeds to point out how that the DOJ reversed the decision on December 23, 2011 while Congress was out of session and how the DOJ acted “on an opinion provided by its Office of Legal Counsel and without input from Congress, state and local officials, or the public.”

Perry continues, calling the reversal “flawed” and that the DOJ didn’t account for policy concerns surrounding gambling expansion to the internet. He believes that those policy concerns should be studied and analyzed by Congress and law enforcement before making online gambling legal in the U.S.

Next, Perry pointed out that the FBI warned in 2009 that iGaming could be used for fraud and money laundering by criminal elements. Two years later, the DOJ indicted PokerStars, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker for charges including money laundering.

Perry closes out his letter asking that Congress reverse the DOJ’s opinion on the wire act to allow “an opportunity to fully review, assess, understand and debate the significant policy implications entailed in the spread of Internet gambling before it becomes pervasive in our society.”

Besides the House and Senate Judiciary Committee, the letter was copied to House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Texas Congressional Delegation.

This letter was released ahead of a rumored bill by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz calling for a reversal of the Wire Act decision. The bill will effectively serve as a companion bill to a rumored bill by Sen. Lindsey Graham that will call for a complete ban on iGaming in the US.

Note that the letter from Gov. Perry does not call for a complete ban on iGaming, but rather a reversal of the DOJ opinion on the Wire Act. While some may view this as splitting hairs, it is a tactic that can still serve the purposes of Adelson and his coalition.

A reversal of the Wire Act would effectively bring talks of online poker legalization to a halt in states debating the issue. It would also put the legal status of the online game into question in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.

For obvious reasons, pro-iGaming lobbyists do not want to see progress made towards a DOJ reversal. The upcoming weeks should prove interesting as we discover what level of political support that Adelson’s group really has.