The U.S. is just a few days away from the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. The country has had inklings of where the new administration might be headed. Citizens have been bombarded by slews of tweets. But what will transpire is anyone’s guess. If you like to place a bet now and then, a safe bet would be that there’s going to be fireworks!
Specifically, for those who work in the gambling industry, the burning question is where is the nation headed concerning online gambling. Most people are of the opinion that the President-elect, as a former casino owner, will favor state’s rights over federal law when it comes to online gambling.
But then, to really twist things around, Trump nominated U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for his attorney general. Without saying yes or no, Sessions did say there is a possibility that he could reverse the ruling giving states the right to offer Internet gambling to their residents. In response to a direct question from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who has benefited from the largess of anti-online gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Sessions said, “I would revisit it and I would make a decision about it based on careful study.” That statement doesn’t exactly give proponents of online gambling a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Sessions, who originally opposed the overturn of the Wire Act, did say that he was “shocked and critical of the original memorandum allowing online gambling. Another sign that makes the gambling industry nervous.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a member of a coalition of organizations opposed to federal regulation, have plenty of influential, well-heeled donors. In a letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Sen. Sessions, the group wrote that reversing the Justice Department’s ruling “would severely injure one of our nation’s founding principles: the idea that the federal government’s power should be limited and states should be free to regulate intrastate commerce as they see fit.”
The executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas, also weighed in with this statement, “A de facto federal prohibition of internet gaming will undermine the ability of states to protect consumers and will lead to an unaccountable and completely unregulated black market.”
Trump has earlier expressed support for sports betting, but that is a whole different issue from allowing gambling over the Internet. For New Jersey though, sports betting is of vital interest as the state looks to rebound from the downward spiral that Atlantic City’s gambling industry has been mired in. In the last three years, five of AC’s twelve brick and mortar casinos have been shuttered.
As to how Trump will respond to both sides of the online gambling issue, here’s another troublesome thought for proponents – Sheldon Adelson contributed $20 million to a super political action committee supporting Trump.
Makes me nervous.