Now that Donald Trump is on his way to the White House, there is a great deal of interest on what his administration’s approach to many aspects of industry and commerce will be. It goes without saying that his election has been greeted with a great deal of drama and fears about many issues which might or might not come true.
As a matter of fact, the Republican party finds itself in a very good position today, since it controls both houses as well as the Presidency.
The gambling industry has also been following the elections with a great deal of care, especially since the past Democratic administrations didn’t really do anything to promote it. At present, the United States does not permit online gambling, with a few exceptions, and this sets it apart from most European nations. Interestingly, even though Americans are mostly prohibited from gambling on the internet, they are very enthusiastic (albeit illegal) customers at online gambling sites.
The fact that Americans continue to gamble illegally using offshore casinos has two major repercussions. One is that the government is missing out on all the tax revenue that could have been generated had the business been regulated and taxed. The second is that Americans find themselves playing at online casinos that might not be legal. This leaves them exposed to online scams and other illegal activities.
Many people maintain that the Republican Party would just be repeating the errors of the Democratic Party if it has a negative attitude towards internet based gambling. Interestingly, a group of lawmakers from the GOP have been trying to roll back the Department of Justice’s note that the Wire Act wasn’t intended to be used to prevent all types of online gambling since it actually was intended to prevent betting on sporting events. This means that using it to ban online lotteries or poker is the wrong use of it.
The main issue seems to be the fact that the GOP is acting against the online gambling industry at the behest of Las Vegas mogul Sheldon Adeldon. The billionaire casino owner has donated very generously to the Republican party over the past many years. He has been vociferous in his opposition to the online gambling industry because it is in direct competition with his land based casinos in Las Vegas, Singapore, and Macau.
American laws against online poker are not very clear and this has prevented the industry from growing. As per the Department of Justice itself, the Wire Act doesn’t declare online poker an illegal activity. However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 makes it very clear that it is illegal for payment processors to enable the transfer of funds to gambling sites.
Opponents of online gambling are hindered by the fact that federal statutes against the business cannot be used to control any internet based gambling as long as it takes place within the borders of a state. In other words, laws such as UIGEA only come into play when state borders are crossed. A few states have taken the position that they have every right to authorize online gambling for their citizens and that they will do so to earn tax revenues.
A group of lawmakers, egged on by Sheldon Adelson, has been working to pass the Restoration of America’s Wire Act in order to prevent states from permitting online gambling. Much to the relief of the online gambling industry, RAWA hasn’t been able to get enough support to go forward. However Republican Senator Tom Cotton has introduced another bill with very similar language.
The online gaming business is observing political developments with a lot of interest and it has every reason to be concerned.