Members of Congress are attempting to use a 1960s-era law governing organized crime and sports betting to regulate one of the Internet-age's favorite pastimes: online gambling. New analysis by Competitive Enterprise Institute consumer policy expert Michelle Minton delves into the history of the “Federal Wire Act” and why it was never meant to apply to online poker in the 21st century.
“Anyone concerned about over-criminalization or federal government encroachment on states rights should beware of this campaign aimed at eliminating online gambling," said Minton, author of “The Original Intent of the Wire Act and Its Implications for State-based Legalization of Internet Gambling,” published by the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"Because anti-gambling lawmakers have repeatedly failed to pass a stand-alone federal ban on Internet gambling, they are now attempting to stop states from legalizing and regulating that activity," said Minton.
“Back in 1961, Robert Kennedy wanted to cut off the mafia’s profit stream, especially its most profitable activity, their gambling racket,” Minton added. "This is clearly a different goal than what lawmakers are trying to curb today."
President Obama's Department of Justice stated in a 13-page memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel that the Wire Act only applies to sports gambling. In response, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) have wrongly accused the Obama administration of re-writing the law, and they seek to pass a new law extending federal regulatory reach.
As Minton notes, before Members of Congress trample on the Bill of Rights, they should at least have a basic understanding of the history of the issue at hand. Thanks to the Minton report, they now do. The last thing Congress needs to do is to trample on the Tenth Amendment to protect the profits of a Las Vegas billionaire.