Legalization of Online Gambling

Don’t bet on it! With less than 40 days before the US Congress goes on summer recess, combined with the political turmoil and partisanship that we have seen in the quest for President, it seems highly unlikely that Congress or anyone else for that matter will even entertain a bill legalizing online gambling. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water!

The UIGEA Law, the Wire Act, and Congress

Sunshine Slots has been following this issue for several years. We reported about the ambiguity of the UIGEA Law, the Wire Act, and the fact that the champion of the legalization of online gambling – Congressman Barney Frank – is about to retire. We also reported that some states have approved land-based gambling such as New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. In fact, the new casino in Queens, New York has taken in more revenue than Atlantic City, Pennsylvania, and Las Vegas. That being the case, you would think that before Congress goes on their summer vacation (honestly, they have more vacations that school teachers!), they would take up the bill that Barney Frank started over a year ago. But that won’t happen because Barney Frank is a Democrat, and the Republicans have been in filibuster mode since day one. Nothing is going to happen before the November election, and if the Republicans maintain control of Congress and continue to filibuster in the Senate – nothing will happen after November no matter who is elected.

One Bright Spot

It was reported the other day that there may be ten seats up for grabs in the Senate. Moreover, Harry Reid, Majority Leader, has made it known that something will be done about all this filibustering. Having said that, if Obama is re-elected, and the Senate and House come out of this election with a Democratic majority – then, and only then, will you see movement on the legalization of the online gambling bill that has been lying dormant for a year or more.

States Rights

In the mean time, individual states that have finally come to the conclusion that online gambling can increase their revenues in this stalled economy, may inch their way towards approving online gambling. While some states have approved online poker, they are still reluctant to go all the way and make all online gambling legal. As we reported in an article last month, we gave kudos to Governor Cuomo who not only approved land-based gambling vis a vis the new Resorts World Casino in Queens, New York; a move which produced the largest revenue of all land-based casinos in the Northeast; but is continuing his quest to rake in as much revenue as possible by his willingness to build a convention center in the same area. Unfortunately, those states with Republican governors are not only against the idea of legalizing gambling, but are using their office to suppress voter registration and rewrite laws – laws that have benefited women in particular. But that’s another topic for another day.

Ambiguity Sham-biguity

A great deal has been mentioned about the Department of Justice and the fact that the Wire Act was re-interpreted to suggest that because they deemed online lottery as legal, online gaming would be as well. (The DOJ said that the restriction related to sports betting only). We suppose that anyone can interpret an ambiguous law to suit their needs. The bottom line is that online gambling is NOT legal in most states. If it were, the DOJ would not have shut down all the poker sites on Black Friday. Nor would many of the top online casinos and software companies move out of the US market.

A Wait and See Game

As we said at the outset, Congress is going on vacation; the Republicans continue to filibuster, and Congress has repealed many of the laws that were passed before the 2010 elections. So what makes anyone think that an online gambling bill is at the top of anyone’s list? Once the November election is over and the majority of the House and Senate are determined, only then can we even discuss how and when online gambling legalizations will be addressed. Until then, the legalization of online gambling question is as stalled as the economy.

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