The battle over legalization of internet gambling is heating up. Today, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced joint legislation that would ban all internet gambling with the exception of fantasy sports and horse racing.
Online gambling was considered illegal under the US Wire Act until a Justice Department decision in late 2011. Since then, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey have legalized forms of online gambling, and other states including California are considering doing the same.
The new bill would restore the old interpretation of the Wire Act, says Senator Graham, who objected to the way online gambling was legalized through a judge's decision and not through the legislative branch. "If you want to have online gambling, then come to the Congress," he says. "Let’s have a debate."
The bill is supported by a number of high-profile Congress members, including Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). "Many online gambling sites fail to screen for underage gamblers, do nothing to prevent money laundering and offer no recourse for fraud or other criminal acts," she said in a press release. "For most Americans, including children, gambling sites are only a few clicks away, and I believe Congress has a responsibility to prevent abuses from occurring."
The bill will be introduced this week. Online gambling advocates say it should be legal but regulated to prevent gambling addiction. Some have speculated that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is the main force driving the new bill, rather than legitimate concerns or moral outrage. Adelson is funding a group called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which recently released a fearmongering ad that linked online gambling to terrorism.