The New Jersey online gambling industry must have breathed a collective sigh of relief at the end of last month, as the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency had finally come and gone without any action against it.
Trump’s Election Brought Tension
The first hundred days of a first-term presidency has come to symbolize a time when the president’s power is peaking. This is often the time they deliver on campaign promises, accomplish a great deal of what they set out to do in the first place, and flex their political muscles.
Despite President Trump’s previous history as an Atlantic City casino mogul, and the fact he hasn’t said much at all on the topic one way or the other, New Jersey lawmakers, regulators and local online gambling industry insiders had to be a little nervous when Trump got elected.
Republicans More Likely to Oppose Online Gambling
Of course, this would have been the case for any Republican candidate. After all, it’s Republican lawmakers who have posed the biggest threat to online gambling in the United States over the past several years.
The Department of Justice released a legal opinion on the Federal Wire Act in 2011, clarifying that the law doesn’t apply to anything outside of sporting events. This led to a some states deciding it was OK to sell lottery tickets over the Internet and even legalize and regulate online poker and casino sites. Although a number of states have talked about similar legislation, when it comes to real money online gaming, only Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have gone as far as passing it.
But ever since they did, Republicans have been trying to take away their right to do so. This has mostly come in the form in something called The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). Essentially, this is a bill looking to rewrite the Federal Wire Act to ban online gambling, take away states’ rights to pass iGaming legislation, and shut down the industry in states that already have.
RAWA Efforts Have Come Up Short
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz first introduced the bill to the Senate and the House in 2014, although they got nowhere with it. They tried again in 2015, but still found little in the way of traction.
Heading into Trump’s election, it appeared RAWA was all but dead, and Chaffetz even made some noise about giving up politics altogether. However, it may have been resuscitated in February, or at least its aims resurfaced, when Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions was confirmed as President Trump’s Attorney General.
As recently as November of 2017, Graham and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) were still scheming to enact online gambling prohibition throughout the United States.
Jeff Sessions: Not a Friend
During what was a rather heated confirmation hearing, Sessions said he basically disagreed with the DOJs legal opinion on the Wire Act. While he stopped short of saying exactly what he wanted to do about it, his remarks certainly put fear into the hearts of anyone involved in online gambling in any of the three states that had passed iGaming legislation.
Presidents don’t generally nominate Attorney Generals they disagree with on too many issues, thus the industry’s sudden fear that President Trump might be interested in a federal ban on online gambling.
Adelson Still Wants Industry Banned – Does Trump?
Billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson is also a major Trump supporter. His “moral” oppositions to online gambling have been widely publicized, and he’s put a lot of money behind RAWA efforts as well, leading to even more speculation about President Trump’s intentions.
However, with his first 100 days ending April 29, online gambling is apparently not an issue on President Trump’s agenda. At least not anywhere near the top of it.
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