Online Gambling

A Republican Ban on Internet Gambling Would Repeat a Costly Democratic Mistake

Obvious cronyism vs. the 10th Amendment


Drx / Dreamstime

Many on the left have taken Donald Trump's surprise victory poorly, responding with considerable hand-wringing and emotional outbursts. Instead of simply focusing on the many evils that they anticipate will take place under President Trump, they would do well to look in the mirror and recognize that there would be far less cause for concern had they not spent the past eight years cheering on the expansion of executive power under President Barack Obama.

Republicans, soon to control all elected branches for the first time in a decade, ignore this lesson at their peril.

A group of congressional Republicans has been trying to undo the Department of Justice's acknowledgment in 2011 that the Wire Act—passed before the internet existed—never should have been interpreted to prevent all forms of online gambling (such as poker and lotteries), as opposed to the "bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest" that the statute explicitly addresses.

They're worked up about it because billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson is a GOP megadonor and some states have begun authorizing online gambling within their borders. Adelson hates online gambling, as it competes with his bricks-and-mortar Las Vegas casinos for customers.

More than five years ago, on what has become known to the poker world as Black Friday, the federal government unleashed a legal jihad against online poker companies and their top executives. Online poker is not itself illegal—a fact clarified by the DOJ's reinterpretation of the Wire Act—but the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act made it illegal for payment processors to transfer funds to and from gambling sites.

The problem for Adelson and his allies is that the UIGEA and other federal statutes apply only when state borders are crossed. The 10th Amendment and the principles of federalism mean that federal lawmakers should have no say regarding activities that take place entirely within one state's borders. So if state governments wish to authorize online gambling for their citizens, they are and should remain free to do so.

Adelson's gang has been trying for some time to pass the Restoration of America's Wire Act to stop states from setting their own gaming rules. Despite its misleading name, RAWA would go even further than the original and erroneous interpretation of the Wire Act, as even that dealt only with interstate activity.

RAWA has failed to muster enough support to move forward thus far, but another bill, SB 3376, was recently introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., with very similar language, suggesting there may be an attempt to sneak it through during the lame-duck session. Trump's campaign received significant support from Adelson, so Republicans might also try to take it up in the new Congress.

Doing so would mean ditching their oft-claimed support for the 10th Amendment and state sovereignty. It would also set a precedent for Democrats, who will eventually hold power again, to similarly prohibit the forms of online commerce they find distasteful, such as gun and ammunition sales.

Republicans should learn from today's dismayed Democrats and resist the temptation—while in power—to operate beyond constitutional limits so that such limits might still be around to keep the other side in check once control of the federal government inevitably changes hands again.


NEXT: Trump Selects Betsy Devos for Education Secretary, Jill Stein Raising Money for Recount, Monday Night Football Ratings Collapse: P.M. Links

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  1. The government allowing adults the liberty to wager their own money freely as they wish?

    I wouldn’t bet on it.

    1. Going after daily fantasy sports was all about extorting the vig out of them.

    2. LOL Dallas.

      “Democrats, who will eventually hold power again, to similarly prohibit the forms of online commerce they find distasteful, such as gun and ammunition sales.”

      I think the Democrats would prefer a national sales tax on online sales of products because they are so greedy. Doing so would start the campaign cash spigot from both online and store retailers, and raise prices in the process.

      And I remember Black Friday. Because I enjoyed playing Party Poker, and managed to place high enough in 10,000 player tournaments (top 72 if I recall) to get entries into another 10,000 player tournament that actually had cash prizes. And I placed in enough of them to build up a stack of $42 and change, with no investment but the time I enjoyed playing. And they sent me the money! The government’s no fun.

    3. I wish they would allow online sports betting again. It made crappy games watchable if you put some coin on it. I couldn’t imagine being forced to watch Cleveland versus 49’ers (I believe it is a human rights violation), but I might be able to watch with interest if I had a bet going.

  2. My first job out of High School was at St Paul and over the next 5 years Iearned so very much. Seeing the hospital torn down tears a small piece of my heart out. The Daughters of Charity and the doctors and staff of St Paul Hospital will always be with me..???????

    1. Sure, Fisty. You let one slide….not on a Mourning Lynx. Too late to throw suspicion off, we’re onto you!

      1. Links on a holiday is just gravy, I know, but if they had posted them today I would have gobbled them up. I wouldn’t even have minded them not stuffing a lot of links into the post, either.

        1. *hands Pilgrim hat to Fist*

          I won’t pretend that didn’t deserve a narrowed gaze, but it is Thanksgiving…

  3. Trump owns casinos and would want online competition….?

    Conflict of interest might be here.

    1. CNN is pounding that drum because Trump has,a business. Most presidents don’t have such ‘baggage’. I’m not saying there won’t be conflict. I just can’t see him selling every thing off ,and that would take years. The stories of who buying what for what price would bring conflict also.

      1. President Johnson wants to legalize pot? Conflict of Interest!

      2. It’s a way of eliminating anyone other than a career politician with a lifetime of parasitism from public coffers and a large bank account (but no specific holdings such as a family business) from running for office.

      3. Were news outlets pounding the drum at Lady Bird’s businesses? I mean the news outlets she didn’t own.

        There is really one factor here that determines if the media get out the drums and mallets. The winner was not a Democrat.

    2. Conflicts have never bothered us before, why start now?

  4. Republicans, soon to control all elected branches for the first time in a decade, ignore this lesson at their peril.

    Republicans have been given a mandate from voters to work diligently at the behest of special interests to remind everyone why they voted Republicans out in the first place. I think we’re going to see the pendulum start to swing at breakneck speeds. The Democrats will be voted back into power in no time, and they will very quickly remind everyone why they voted Democrats out in the first place. And at the zenith of each swing the party in power will do enough damage that in aggregate will eventually doom the republic.

    And that’s what I’m thankful for.

    1. Deficits don’t matter when the GOP controls government.

      1. Whereas they matter greatly when Democrats control government: they have to be large and growing.

  5. In other news, the Democrats hatch a brilliant plan. No one could have predicted this.

    We’re doing it right, just need to do more!

    Sadbeard has a sad.

    1. I made it as far as the byline. That’s the dumbest thing I’m going to allow myself to read today.

    2. Like every other form of collectivism, racism is a quest for the unearned. It is a quest for automatic knowledge?for an automatic evaluation of men’s characters that bypasses the responsibility of exercising rational or moral judgment?and, above all, a quest for an automatic self-esteem (or pseudo-self-esteem).

      Ol’ Ayn had them nailed before they were born.

    3. The left couldn’t have a better spokesidiot.

      You got it Matty, I encourage you to circle harder.

    4. He is the idiot little brother to Thomas Frank – who still can’t figure out why Kansans don’t vote like he thinks they should.

    5. But we’re all beautiful unique snowflakes in one way or another.

      Well he got on thing right; they are all snowflakes. Fragile little snowflakes

    6. So the Trump reelection campaign has started in earnest. Woohoo.

    7. People have identities, and people are mobilized politically around those identities. There is no other way to do politics than to do identity politics.

      (points to 1000s of years of politics, is handwaved away by pretentious-hamster Yglacias)

      1. Sadbeard: Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?
        GILMORE: Yes.
        Sadbeard: Morons.

        1. His point amounts to

          = “All politics is identity politics. I will now redefine what Identity Politics means in order for that to be true”

          He’s taking what identity groups typically refers to – e.g. minorities – and saying, “well, everything is an identity – ergo, any appeal to different economic groups is ALSO ‘identity’ politics.”

          Suddenly what was known as “Class warfare” in the past – eg. appealing to people based on economic cohorts – that’s “identity politics” too now.

          Also, any “Generational politics”? Where a candidate appeals to the youth vote? (e.g. Clinton, Obama) – That’s “identity politics” too now.

          Oh, you’re making a regional appeal? = saying you’re going to bring jobs back to an economically disadvantaged Rust Belt? IDENTITY POLITICS. Because being from Michigan is an identity too.

          Its the sort of argument you’d expect from a college freshman who hasn’t yet learned that Equivocation is actually a fallacy.

      2. pretentious-hamster

        Do not talk shit about Hamster.

    8. Democrats did absolutely nothing wrong in election 2016. They just needed to do it more often, louder, and more awesomely and more explicitly. Next time ’round, they need quit being so polite and to be more explicit about the basket of deplorables. Rather than just calling them racists, call them genocidal racists just like Hitler. Rather than calling them sexists, call the misogynistic murderers just like Jack the Ripper. Rather just calling them Islamophobes, call them murderous crusaders. Instead of calling of them homophobes, point out how they hatefully refuse to use preferred pronouns. Etc. No more Queenbury Rules; take the gloves and tell 47% of the voters just how evil they are and how hateful their values are. Oh yeah, be sure to constantly remind them how incredibly stupid they are.

  6. I look forward to the sharing of retarded Thanksgiving memes today from Occupy Democrats, Afropunk, The Other 98% etc.

  7. Many on the left have taken Donald Trump’s surprise victory poorly, responding with considerable hand-wringing and emotional outbursts.

    That is what Reason is calling the November Kristallnacht? They wrung their hands so vigorously windows burst and cars caught fire?

    1. They haven’t won over enough voters with rioting. According to Sadbeard they just need to riot more.

      The entertainment value of Trump’s victory is beyond measure.

      1. I’m just glad I don’t live someplace that voted over 60% Clinton. I need my vehicle operational to get to work, not burned in a snowflake storm.

      2. The entertainment value of Trump’s victory is beyond measure

        True. If he manages not to screw up 15% of his policies, he’ll be the best President in the past 16 years.

    2. Can we get a moratorium on anything Nazi or Soviet related over the next four years? This is just getting stupid. No, Trump is not doing a ‘Stalinesque’ purge of Christie followers, the progressives are not engaging in a targeted paramilitary campaign to destroy property, arrest people and kill dozens of people. It’s vandalism by shitbags.

      1. Yes, please. Everyone needs to get some goddamn perspective.

        1. Actually the Leftoids are engaged in a targeted campaign to destroy property, as some of us saw in the riot footage and reports of property destruction. Vandalizing shitbags are the ones who perform that task throughout history.

          Schools that presses charges against someone for speech are certainly trying to arrest people for disagreeing with them and it is piled high with Leftists pressing the charges.

          Leftists killing people for expressing even a like of Trump, even as a joke? Yes, but smaller than dozens. You can read about those here in the comments section since they don’t manage to make it into the regular articles.

          Vandalism by shitbags. Kristallnacht and today, the vandalism is done by shitbags.

          The only thing stopping them from being “paramilitary” is their sloppy fashion choices.

          No, I will not stop pointing out that 99% if not all of this terrorism (political violence) comes from the Left. The jackbooted, National Socialist and International Socialist Left.

          1. Yes, Chicken Little it up and accuse your opponents of being Nazis. That’s worked so well for the left, hasn’t it?

            Vandalism by shitbags. Kristallnacht and today, the vandalism is done by shitbags.

            The only thing stopping them from being “paramilitary” is their sloppy fashion choices.

            And this is why you clearly don’t know anything about Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht was a targeted operation by SA and SS under the cover of rioting. These are actual riots, by overly emotional idiots with no strategic planning. George Soros may be bussing these idiots around, but he’s not providing a list of targets to be removed. That’s why you’re being (ironically) an overly emotional hyperbolic idiot by making such a comparison.

            1. Endorsing them is not going to help.

              1. Refusing to Godwin the thread is not endorsing them.

                1. From his own posts JT says “George Soros may be bussing these idiots around,” then turns on the crystal ball of excuse making “but he’s not providing a list of targets to be removed.”

                  Nice. You can make excuses for these coordinated thugs all the livelong day and it is not going to change the fact that it is a widespread bunch of leftist destroying the property, health, and lives of anybody they even think does not agree with them.

                  1. That’s not an excuse. Are you foreign?

                  2. Not excusing, recognizing what they are, not what you want them to be to fulfill your morality play. Rioting is not acceptable, and should be put down with force.

                    Provide evidence that Soros is giving targets to the protesters to deliberately attack (busing people out to protest is not the same thing) and authorizing vandalism and violence or you don’t have an argument.

            2. BTW, not a damn one of these vandals is distinguishable from National Socialists.

              1. You need to calm down man.

  8. I stand with Colin Kaepernick. Not really, but I liked this:

    “They’re not watching football because of my stance about fighting systematic oppression and wanting the same equality and freedom for all people,” Kaepernick mused, then added, “I would say they probably need to look in the mirror at what they value. You know, if they’re okay with people being treated unfairly, being abused, being harassed, being terrorized, then the problem is more with what they’re doing in their lives than it is about watching football games.”

    1. Ratings crash so the dunce insults the few people still watching.

      This is a brilliant strategy.

      1. If the NFL were not such greedy shitbags, more people would watch. When I was a kid, we had 3 TV channels and I could watch more football than I can now since the NFL have managed a monopoly on viewing for the last 20 years or so. $400 a year so I can watch a few games that I actually want to see? No thanks.

    2. The ego on that guy. Fuck him.

    3. I think he’s right. I think people have re-examined their value, and they clearly don’t value NFL football.

    4. Of course, he’d never consider that perhaps some people just disagree on his methodology or analysis of the situation, or maybe just don’t like wealthy athletes socially signalling. Instead he must be a Noble Martyr for The Cause.

    5. Maybe some GLBT activists should have a chat with him about how his hero treats their cohort. Then talk about values.

  9. Turkey is brining in the cooler, and I am ready to have my first Thanksgiving with zero extended family. It will just be the wife and kids, plus some friends from the LA/OC area. I am praying that politics does not come up.

    1. I hope you have a politicking free Thanksgiving. Hopefully I can walk after I eat, my appetite is quite ferocious at this point.

  10. Republicans should learn, Democrats should learn. Precedents are set, BLAH BLAH BLAH… The duopoly’s ping pong keeps bouncing back and forth. Sad part is their are viable alternatives like the libertarian party, but until the American electorate decides to educate themselves and learn what real freedom is then we’ll continue to have erosions to constitutional freedom and the bill of rights. The two party system are two sides to the same coin.

    1. “…the American electorate decides to educate themselves and learn what real freedom is…”

      I think I see the problem and it isnt political parties.

      1. Partys

        Shit, it’s not even nine am and I am drunk already.

        1. I’m fixin some JD myself.

        2. Well what the hell, time for a vodka cranberry.

          Going to the inlaws for turkey, ham, collard greens, cornnon the cob, candied yams, potato salad, stuffing, apple pie, red velvet cake, and lemon cake. Plus some assorted bbq ribs/hot links/brisket.

          I put up all the Xmas lights for my mother in law. It’s the brightest, flashiest house on the block which makes her happy. That makes my wife happy. That makes me happy.

          No politics, just eating and football, and ladders and staple guns. And today, vodka cranberries.

          Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

          1. Damn you, I’m trying not to drink yet! Oh well, I’ll have a beer and vodka later…

            Merry Thanksgiving, rat bagging shitlords!

    2. Both teams have their own particular ways in which they want to oppress the peasants. Every 4 years, they take turns seeing which can do the most harm to the Republic.

    3. How do you judge the Libertarian Party’s viability?

      1. Good question. Truthfully the LP is unproven on the national stage – however, take into account the two rather abhorrent parties currently in charge. Likewise with GayJay, was/is he 100% pro liberty? Probably not, but it definitely is a better alternative to the current system. All parties espouse freedom but rarely deliver.

  11. The Aborto-freaks, drug warriors, anti-gamblers, Bible-Thumpers etc have their type liberty-killer with Herr Sessions as AG.

    The TEAM RED! boot lickers here will be busy defending him for the next four years.

    1. True that. The Evangelical right is chomping at the bit with their man Sessions in there.

    2. As usual shreek nails it. Yep, the non-stop defense of Sessions continues unabated at H&R.

      1. We’re all Red Tony now, Suthen.

    3. Direct quote from John, the Team Red-est man here: “Sessons isn’t a racist, he’s just an asshole.”

      You ever get tired of being wrong?

    4. I hear Sessions is heading to Dogdick first. Better hide now, shreek.

  12. Don’t care. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    1. This guy gets it!

  13. A serious case of fiscal amnesia may soon be sweeping the GOP.

    For eight years, Republicans hammered President Barack Obama for exploding the national debt. But now a GOP-led spending spree is coming, with Donald Trump riding to the White House on trillion-dollar promises and a Republican Congress that looks likely to do his bidding. It’s a potential echo of the last time Republicans ran Washington, when then-Vice President Dick Cheney memorably remarked, “Deficits don’t matter.”…..ans-231372

    Spineless Dems won’t stand in the way either.

    1. I’ll be there in a minute!

    1. So the guy goes to all this trouble to set up these fake news sites in order to expose the alt right. Hmmm. Given how you have NBC doctoring tapes, and Rolling Stone, well, being Rolling Stone, it’s actually a compliment to the alt right that he had to set up a fake site. Massive media outlets pump out the fake news, but it’s the alt right that are the suckers for falling for his fake site. What a fucking dishonest loser.

      1. Yep, that was my response to reading this line:

        Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals ? but they just never take the bait.

        Of course they don’t. They got all their fake news from “reputable” outlets.

    2. “The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction,” Coler says.

      ….He wrote one fake story for about how customers in Colorado marijuana shops were using food stamps to buy pot.

      e.g. The worst parts of the right arent prominent enough, so the left needs to go out and invent them.

      Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals ? but they just never take the bait.

      Uh huh.

      1. To prove how stupid conservatives are, I’ll put effort into creating a legitimate looking news website, publish false but plausible sounding stories, and then, when the stories spread and actually contribute to preconceived biases and stereotypes, I’ll be able to feel smug and righteous. Oh, and I’ll make lots of money off of it but criticize “greed” in other people.

  14. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone . I have turkey and all that in the oven. Beer in the fridge. I lost both my parents the last 2 months,may father Sunday. but I’ll try to enjoy this one day. I wish you and yours all the best .Adans.

    1. Cheers Adans! Reaching that age myself and lost one already. Hang in there, drinks a few too many and watch the Vikings win.

    2. Sorry to hear that, but I hope you still have s great day and keep them with you in spirit

    3. Sorry to hear, I know the feeling too.
      I lost my mother, very sudden and tragic, it never is quite the same after but time heals.

    4. Thanks all,I’m going to eat,drink,watch some football and nap on and off.

    5. Condolences.

    6. My sympathy Adans. Lost Dad in January.

    7. That’s rough Adams. You’ve got my condolences. My own uncle passed last week and his siblings wants to restart the feuding from my grandmother’s death several years ago.

      1. Adans. Stupid autocorrect.

    8. Drowning your sorrows in turkey and beer is the right response. I’m sorry for your loss.

    9. I’m sorry about your loss. I hope you will have a good day despite that.

  15. People scared of politics coming up because feelings get hurt sicken me. I don’t go out of my way to interject politics unless I’m poking a few particular people for entertainment, but if you get emotionally distressedo by disagreement you are a pussy.

    1. If and when politics comes up, I’ll be asking some progressives to help me understand what makes economies grow.

      Give ’em enough rope, . . .

      Oh, and never blow a chance to pray for the atheists at the table. Pray for the atheists and pray for tolerance.


      1. You guys have to deal with progs – I have to deal with stupid greasy haired conservative redneck in-laws.

        I’ll trade with you.

        1. Is their hair greasy from externally added grease, or from their own sebum?

          1. Good question, Robert.

        2. I’m sure after you insult and berate them enough, they’ll see the light and sing the praises of Obama.

        3. I don’t believe anyone married you.

          I just don’t.

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  17. There’s less overhead and labor cost in the online world. The DFS industry rakes in the money.

    Trump’s casinos (or what’s left of it) won’t survive much longer, especially with rich lefties boycotting them. You can’t replicate the physical experience of playing golf online. You can do it for gambling, unless you really want the whole casino experience.

    Gambling is a terrible waste of money, and the pros will clean you out. But who am I stop people from making mistakes? I spend a few bucks on DFS everyday, but it’s neither my business or responsibility that some people drop thousands of dollars on that every night.

    1. The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.

  18. “Online poker is not itself illegal”–this statement is false, except in three states where it is authorized (NV, NJ, DE). In every other state, online gaming (including poker) is either explicitly banned by statute or implicitly banned by fact that state gaming regulators have not licensed any online gaming site nor permitted land-based licensees to expand into the online space.

    Now if the author’s point is that online poker is not illegal under federal law, that is a different statement. And it’s also false. Although the the Wire Act does not apply outside of sports wagering, other federal statutes such as the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA), the Travel Act, and RICO make gambling which is illegal under state law also illegal under federal law if certain conditions are met. And as noted by the author, the UIGEA makes it a federal offense to process money used to support online gaming which is illegal under state law.

    As a term of it’s Black Friday settlement with the DOJ, PokerStars is permitted to offer online poker in any state where it is legal to do so. It’s noteworthy that PokerStars currently operates only in New Jersey. If online poker were legal in other states, one would presume PokerStars would be operating in those states as well.

  19. ” The 10th Amendment and the principles of federalism mean that federal lawmakers should have no say regarding activities that take place entirely within one state’s borders. ”
    Wickard v. Filburn kinda ended that in practice.

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