Another attempt to derail the gaming industry expansion online is going in front of the House. Rep. Jason Chaffetz [R-UT], along with 14 cosponsors introduced H.R. 707, also known as the “Restoration of America’s Wire Act”, a bill that intends to prohibit all gambling over the internet on a national scale. It has has slowly risen to rebuke Justice Department’s 2011 interpretation of the Wire Act, and directly targets real money USA online gambling sites like these from being able to transfer funds directly into bank accounts electronically.
New York and Illinois asked for a memorandum on the Wire Act to determine if selling lottery tickets to eligible adults online was lawful. Until then, the Wire Act had prohibited interstate wagering on sporting events or contests. When the memorandum returned that lottery transactions did not fall under the banner of a “contest”, many states saw it as an opportunity to finally allow online casinos to operate legally.
Now, Mr. Chaffetz and his cosponsors are looking to rewrite the Wire Act so that it will unequivocally restrict states from allowing online lotto sales or gambling on sports, poker, and games like slot machines.
Among the changes proposed is the replacement of any instance of the phrases “bets or wagers” to “any bets or wagers”; The team finding that the vague language of the act is what allowed for reinterpretation in the first place.
It’s a controversial bill. According to Watchdog.org, legal USA sites could see it as an attack by big casinos using their wealth to influence politicians and take away from their smaller budgets. There is evidence to support this idea; Sheldon Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. has spent over $1 million lobbying for the bill’s success.
Others find offense in the idea that it would remove a state’s right to determine what gaming operations are legal within its borders. As it stands, the bill would also affect existing online gaming operations in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. It would also prohibit a handful of other states from selling lotto tickets online.
It’s also not the first time Mr. Chaffetz has introduced this type of legislation. In March 2014, a similar bill sponsored by the representative died in Congress. As such, H.R. 707 can be seen as a re-introduction of that bill for another consideration. It was sent for a committee hearing in February.
So, how likely will approval be in 2015? Slim, at least according to some sources. Govtrack.us, a site dedicated to tracking legislation and government transparency, gives only a 1% chance of the bill being enacted. Additionally, a poll conducted by PopVox shows that 73% of respondents oppose the bill, echoing sentiments from a year ago.
The current Judiciary committee hearing for the bill has been postponed, adding to speculations that it will unlikely make it past the House, but still poses a threat if it resurfaces and gains a following.