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U.S. Senators File Bill To End Online Lotteries

Last updated on June 29th, 2015 at 03:03 pm

Several U.S. senators have filed a bill that would end online lotteries. These senators include Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Dan Coats (R-Indiana) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina).

The senators noted that, in December 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published an opinion that banned all forms of internet gambling. This decision opened the door to online gambling in states that previously had not allowed some forms of gaming.

In the aftermath, three states currently offer some type of online gaming, and up to 10 additional states are currently considering doing the same.

Courts have split on the legality of the DOJ’s ruling—the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has said the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, while district-level courts have said the Wire Act applies to all online gambling. The issue has not yet been before the Supreme Court.

“In 1999, South Carolina outlawed video poker and removed over 33,000 video poker machines from within its borders,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Now, because of this decision by the Obama Administration, virtually any cell phone or computer in South Carolina could become a video poker machine. A major rewrite of a long-standing federal law like this should be made by the people’s elected representatives in Congress and signed into law by the president, not done administratively.”

Feinstein addressed other significant concerns in her comments on the bill.

“Internet gambling is very troubling—many online gambling sites don’t screen for underage gamblers and do nothing to prevent money laundering, fraud or other criminal acts. Gambling sites are easily accessible and I believe Congress has a responsibility to prevent abuses from occurring. That’s why I support the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, which would prohibit nearly all forms of internet gambling.”

Added Lyle Beckwith, National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) SVP of government relations, “NACS supports this legislation, as it will resume the decades-old interpretation of the Wire Act to mean that lottery games cannot be played online.”

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